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S Asia reporters 'at severe risk'

Funeral in Colombo
Lasantha Wickramatunga was shot dead in Sri Lanka in January

Rising violence in South Asia is putting journalists at "severe risk", a US-based media human rights group says.

The Committee to Protect Journalists lists nations where reporters are regularly attacked or killed.

In the committee's list of 14 leading countries where the authorities had failed to solve murders of journalists, six were in South Asia.

This year has seen the high-profile murders of a Sri Lankan editor and a Nepal radio journalist.

'Eroding'

The committee's report says attacks on reporters have increased in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, while Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and India also all appear on its "impunity index" of 14 countries.

Shawn Crispin, CPJ Asia programme consultant, told the Reuters news agency: "The political situation in South Asia is deteriorating."

He said some of the countries were "entering now into eras of sustained armed conflict and as soon as that happens, journalists are immediately at risk".

The committee's survey pointed to a surge of violence in Sri Lanka.

This year the editor of the Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickramatunga, was killed and in a second attack, another editor, Upali Tennakoon, was injured.

Mr Crispin also pointed to the situation in Pakistan which was "quickly eroding".

"There are more and more journalists getting caught, not necessarily in the crossfire itself, but by competing groups. They don't like the coverage of the journalist, they target the journalist," he said.

TV reporter Musa Khankhel was shot dead in Pakistan's troubled Swat district in February.

Nepal also saw a high-profile murder this year. Reporter Uma Singh was murdered in the southern city of Janakpur.

The CPJ said that India was also on the list - ranked 14th with seven cases of unsolved murders.

Iraq, Sierra Leone and Somalia top the list for the second year running.



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SEE ALSO
Sri Lanka journalism 'under threat'
23 Jan 09 |  South Asia
Sri Lanka journalists 'risk death'
03 Feb 09 |  South Asia
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13 Jan 09 |  South Asia
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12 Jan 09 |  South Asia
Bhutanese reporter is imprisoned
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