The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders says the number of journalists killed worldwide dropped by nearly a quarter this year, largely because of improvements in Iraq.

In its annual report Tuesday, the Paris-based organization says 60 journalists were killed in 2008, down from 86 last year.

Iraq remained the deadliest country for reporters with 15 deaths, but that was significantly fewer than the 47 killed there in 2007.

Reporters Without Borders says the declining numbers do not mean the global press freedom situation has improved. It says the lower figures often are the result of journalists being forced to stop their work, and "should not mask the fact that intimidation and censorship have become more widespread, including in the West."

The report highlights an increase in Internet repression, with bloggers facing imprisonment in many countries, including Burma, China, Iran and Syria. Reporters Without Borders says a Chinese man in 2008 was the first person to be killed while acting as a "citizen journalist."

Along with the Middle East, the group named Asia as one of the deadliest regions for journalists, with seven reporters killed in Pakistan and six in the Philippines.

Four journalists were killed in Mexico, while the death toll in Africa was said to have dropped from 12 in 2007 to three in 2008, mostly because journalists on the continent had stopped working, especially in war zones such as Somalia.

The report also finds that fewer journalists were arrested, censored, kidnapped, attacked or threatened in 2008.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.