NEW YORK (Reuters)–The number of journalists killed in the line of duty rose sharply last year to 37–with eight killed in the war in Afghanistan alone–the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday.
In 2000–24 journalists were killed while on the job–said the CPJ–a New York-based nonpartisan group which is dedicated to the defense of free press.
"Journalists covering the war in Afghanistan showed extraordinary courage–but we should also remember that journalists around the world who uncovered corrupt–illegal acts–and graft at high levels of power were murdered with impunity," said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper.
At least 25 of the 37 journalists killed in 2001 were murdered. In addition to Afghanistan–journalists were killed in Colombia–the Philippines–China–the United States–and 17 other countries–CPJ said.
The highest death toll for journalists in a single country during one year occurred in 1995–according to CPJ’s records–when 24 journalists were killed in Algeria.
In addition to the eight journalists killed in the war in Afghanistan in 2001–Marc Brunereau–a free-lance reporter–died last year of wounds suffered in Afghanistan in 1999.
The eight journalists killed in Afghanistan last year were Pierre Billaud of Radio Television Luxembourg; free-lance reporter Volker Handloik; Johanne Sutton of Radio France Internationale–Harry Burton and Azizullah Haidari of Reuters; Maria Grazia Cutuli of Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera; Julio Fuentes of Spain’s El Mundo newspaper; and Ulf Stromberg of Swedish channel TV4.
Burton–Haidari–Cutuli–and Fuentes were ambushed by gunmen while traveling in a convoy from Kabul while they were covering the US campaign to hunt down Osama bin Laden and destroy the al Qaeda network and the Taliban.
The US blames bin Laden for the Sept. 11 attacks.
While covering the attack in New York–where two hijacked airplanes were crashed into the twin towers–freelance photographer William Biggart was killed when he rushed to the towers with his camera–CPJ said.
The other journalist killed in the United States last year was Robert Stevens. A photo editor for The Sun–Stevens died of anthrax inhalation after an envelope containing the agent was mailed to the tabloid newspaper in Florida.