World Journalists Mourn Two New Killings As 2004 Death Toll Hits A Record 120

The International Federation of Journalists today confirmed that 2004 has turned into the worst year on record for the killing of journalists and media staff as two new violent deaths were recorded in Africa and Asia, bringing the death toll to 120 in the year so far.

In Colombo, Sri Lanka, Lal Jayasundara, a 20-year-old photojournalist for the Wijeya newspaper group, was one of two people killed six days ago by a bomb in an attack on an entertainment spectacular. The show had been opposed by Sinhala Buddhist extremist groups who launched a protest over the show taking place on the first anniversary of the death of popular Buddhist preacher Soma Thero.

And today came the news that Deida Hydara, the AFP correspondent in the Gambian capital Banjul was shot and killed shortly after dropping off colleagues from the newspaper The Point, of which he was co-editor. He was shot in the head. Demba Ali Diao, the head of the IFJ-affiliated Gambia Press Union said Hydara was very critical of the government and opposed repressive laws. The IFJ is calling for a full investigation into his death.

“These killings are the latest senseless deaths in a year of unprecedented horror for journalism,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “Our figures show that this is the worst single year on record.”

He said that of particular concern were the spate of deaths in the Philippines where 12 journalists have been killed and in the Middle East, including Iraq where 53 deaths were recorded.

“Many of these deaths could not have been avoided, but targeted killings as we have witnessed in the Philippines, Iraq and now in the Gambia must be properly and publicly investigated and the killers brought to justice,” said White.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries