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Report: 81 journalists were killed in 2017

BRUSSELS — At least 81 reporters were killed doing their jobs this year, while violence and harassment against media staff has skyrocketed, the world's biggest journalists' organization says.

In its annual "Kill Report," the International Federation of Journalists said reporters lost their lives in targeted killings, car bomb attacks and crossfire incidents around the world.

And more than 250 journalists were in prison in 2017.

The number of deaths as of Dec. 29 was the lowest in a decade, down from 93 in 2016. The largest number were killed in Mexico, but many also died in conflict zones in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

The IFJ suspected but could not confirm that at least one other journalist was killed Thursday in an attack by an Islamic State suicide bomber on a Shiite cultural center in Kabul, in which at least 41 people died.

IFJ president Philippe Leruth said that while the drop in deaths "represents a downward trend, the levels of violence in journalism remain unacceptably high."

He said the IFJ finds it "most disturbing that this decrease cannot be linked to any measure by governments to tackle the impunity for these crimes."

Eight women journalists were killed, two in European democracies — Kim Wall in Denmark, who died on the submarine of an inventor she was writing about, and Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was blown up by a bomb placed in her car.

Beyond the deaths, the IFJ warned that "unprecedented numbers of journalists were jailed, forced to flee, that self-censorship was widespread and that impunity for the killings, harassment, attacks and threats against independent journalism was running at epidemic levels."

Turkey has become notorious for putting reporters behind bars since a failed coup in July 2016. Some 160 journalists are jailed in Turkey — two-thirds of the global total — the report said.

Countries with the highest numbers of media killings:

Mexico, 13; Afghanistan, 11; Iraq, 11; Syria, 10; India, six; Philippines, four; Pakistan, four; Nigeria, three; Somalia, three; and Honduras, three.

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