( Reuters ) - At least 65 journalists were killed around the world because of their work last year, the highest figure for 13 years, and nearly half of them died in Iraq, a leading media watchdog reported on Monday.
The figure compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, in its annual report, "Attacks on the Press," was one more than that cited by the New York-based group in a December 18 statement and compares with 56 in 2006.
The 2007 toll is one lower than the 66 journalists killed in 1994 but that figure was swollen by the genocide in Rwanda.
Other groups have reported higher figures, with Paris-based Reporters Without Borders saying 86 journalists were killed last year. CPJ says it applies the strictest criteria for the work-related nature of deaths and is still checking 23 cases.
In Iraq, 32 journalists -- the same figure as in 2006 -- were killed last year, all but one of them Iraqis, as well as 12 media support workers, who include translators, fixers, guards and drivers, CPJ said.
The report called the Iraq war "the deadliest conflict for journalists in recent history," with 125 journalists and 49 support workers killed since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
But it said: "Improving security conditions in parts of the country in 2007 may have had an effect on media deaths, as most occurred in the first seven months of the year."
The second deadliest country last year was Somalia, with seven media deaths. Five died in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, two in Afghanistan and Eritrea and one in Haiti, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nepal, the Palestinian territories, Paraguay, Peru, Russia, Turkey, the United States and Zimbabwe.