Ukraine Has The Highest Journalist Death Toll So Far This Year, According To Report

Domestic and foreign passports of Russian Andrey Mironov, and a passport  of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli, killed
Domestic and foreign passports of Russian Andrey Mironov, and a passport of Italian photojournalist Andrea Rocchelli, killed on Saturday, are photographed in Slovyansk, Ukraine, Sunday, May 25, 2014. Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the leader of rebels in Slovyansk, identified Rocchelli’s interpreter as Andrey Mironov. Insurgents said Rocchelli died in a mortar shelling by government forces and that his Russian translator also was killed. Mironov, a civil activist and rights defender who served a prison sentence for his dissident activities during the Soviet times, has been known in Russia for his human rights activites. He also had friendly ties with many Moscow-based Western journalists. (AP Photo/Pool)

GENEVA, July 21 (Reuters) - Ukraine was the world's most dangerous country for journalists in the first six months of this year, media safety body INSI reported on Monday.

A total of seven reporters and their assistants were killed in the country, where pro-Russian separatists in eastern regions are fighting government forces, between Jan. 1 and June 30.

That was one more than in Iraq and two more than in Syria and Pakistan, according to the London-based INSI's biannual survey.

Journalist deaths worldwide jumped from 40 in the first half of 2013 to 61 this year, the report showed.

In the whole of last year, a total of 110 journalists died while reporting the news around the globe, according to INSI.

Among this year's Ukraine deaths were two Russian television cameramen and a sound engineer, and an Italian reporter and his Russian interpreter. All were covering the fighting in the east, the International News Safety Insitute said.

But it added: "Countless other journalists in the region have been threatened, attacked and kidnapped."

INSI, which is backed by leading world media organizations including Reuters, provides courses on how to minimize risk for both staff and independent reporters and back-up personnel covering conflict situations.

In its latest survey, it said Iraq - for a decade among the most dangerous countries for journalists - had seen a rise in deaths since radical Islamist militias seized wide swathes of territory in June and fought off government troops.

Worldwide so far in 2014, television reporters and their crews made up by far the majority of victims for a total of 23, with radio journalists at 16 and newspaper correspondents at 14. News agencies lost six staffers. (Reported by Robert Evans; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)