Combat-related deaths in Syria and targeted murders in three other countries have made 2012 one of the deadliest years on record for journalists, according to a US-based group which promotes press freedom.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says, as of mid-December, at least 67 journalists had been killed in direct relation to their work, a more than 40-percent rise from 2011. The group says another 30 deaths are under investigation.
The report, released Tuesday, finds Syria's anti-government-related unrest resulted in the deaths of 28 journalists who were either killed in combat or targeted and killed by the government or opposition forces.
CPJ says citizen journalists paid the ultimate price, with 13 killed while serving as sources for international news organizations.
Twelve journalists were reported murdered in Somalia. The report blames "weak and corrupt institutions" in the country for a lack of prosecutions in journalist murders over the past decade.
Pakistan also ranks high on the list with seven killings, four of them in Baluchistan. Journalists are routinely targeted in the country and killers often evade justice, according to the CPJ report.
Four journalists were killed in Brazil in direct relation to their work and, CPJ says "extraordinary violence" has been used to censor the press in Mexico. The group said it has confirmed one journalist death in the country but several others were under investigation.
There has been at least one journalist death in each of the following countries: Russia, Nigeria, Iran and the Philippines.
Researchers also say journalists working online accounted for about one-third of those killed this year, a significant rise from 2011.
In a separate report released earlier this month, the group said a record-high 232 journalists were in prisons this year. The group named Turkey, Iran and China as the worst offenders.