GENEVA, Feb 18 (Reuters) - One hundred and thirty-four journalists and media support staff were killed while on reporting assignments last year, most of them targeted deliberately, the London-based International News Safety Institute (INSI) said on Tuesday.
Of these, 65 died covering armed conflicts - primarily in Syria, where 20 were killed, and Iraq, where the death total was 16 - while 51 were killed in peacetime covering issues like crime and corruption, and 18 died in accidents.
The total was down from 152 deaths recorded in 2012, but there was an accompanying rise in assaults, threats and kidnappings directed at journalists which largely go unreported, said the INSI study, "Killing the Messenger."
The institute, funded by major world news organisations including Reuters, has been issuing the report since 1996. Its main work is providing security training for journalists reporting in dangerous situations.
INSI said local journalists were the main victims, with 123 of the dead killed while covering their own country. Of the 20 who died in Syria, 16 were Syrian nationals.
"Most journalists were targeted, and shooting was the most common cause of death," INSI said. The report, compiled for INSI by the Cardiff School of Journalism in Wales, showed 85 of the victims were shot.
Others died in explosions, stabbings and beatings, under torture or by strangulation, or in accidents, according to INSI.
After Syria and Iraq, cited by the Institute as the most dangerous countries for journalists last year, came Philippines with 14 deaths, India with 13 and Pakistan with 9.
In 2012, 28 reporters died in Syria, 18 in Somalia, 12 in Nigeria, 11 in Mexico and 11 in Pakistan.
The 2013 total for the Philippines, which in past years has seen a mass shooting of reporters as well as individual assassinations, included five who lost their lives in natural disasters. (Reporting by Robert Evans; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)