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Monday, 1 October, 2001, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK
Journalists in the frontline
Police at the scene
Police search the scene where Martin O'Hagan was shot
As the murdered investigative reporter Martin O'Hagan is buried, we look at the journalists at risk from the very groups they are reporting on.

It was just another Friday night for journalist Martin O'Hagan. But last week, the 51-year-old reporter was shot dead as he walked home from a night at the pub with his wife.

A loyalist paramilitary group is thought to be behind the shooting. Mr O'Hagan was known for his tenacious pursuit of the extremists in Northern Ireland, and had received a string of death threats over the years.

Martin O'Hagan
Martin O'Hagan: Shot after years of threats
Hundreds of journalists have been murdered, tortured, abducted or raped around the world in the past few years.

Another was Mirwais Jalil, of the BBC World Service in Afghanistan, who secured an exclusive interview with the then Prime Minister, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, on 29 July, 1994.

As Jalil drove away from the government compound after the interview, his car was surrounded by a mob who dragged him out onto the street, shot him more than 20 times and left him for dead.

The prime minister blamed the atrocity on his enemy, the Taleban - then in opposition. The Taleban blamed Mr Hekmatyar.

Eleven journalists killed Jan-July 2001
Two in Algeria
One in Columbia
One in Costa Rica
One in France
One in Mexico
Two in the Philippines
One in Thailand
Two in Yugoslavia
15 unconfirmed, including six in Columbia
His killers have never been brought to justice.

The Committee for the Protection of Journalists, an independent human rights watchdog based in New York, claims that in the first half of this year, 11 journalists were murdered in the course of doing their jobs.

Many more cases where journalists died in violent and suspicious circumstances are still being investigated.

The group claims that more than 400 journalists have been murdered since 1988, with hundreds more attacked, beaten, threatened, exiled or banished.

In the path of danger

BBC journalists are among those targeted for intimidation, banishment murder and attempted murder.

Soldiers patrol the Jaffna peninsula
Soldiers patrol the Jaffna peninsula
Last October, the Sri Lankan World Service reporter Mylvaganam Nimalarajan was shot dead at home in front of his family by unknown assailants.

He had reported extensively on the clashes between government forces and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. The international media rights group, Reporters Sans Frontières, had described him as "the last independent journalist in the Jaffna peninsula", the centre of much of the conflict.

Uncertain fate

Some murdered journalists are the victims - particularly the growing number in India - of political or religious sectarianism. Others are the victims of repressive regimes or criminals.

Veronica Guerin
The crime reporter Veronica Guerin
But the overwhelming majority have been killed by terror groups, paramilitaries and hired gunmen.

Most of the deaths are in the Middle East, South Asia, South America and Africa. But Europe is not immune.

Last year, the Spanish journalist Jose Luis Lopez de la Calle was shot dead outside his home in Andaoin after campaigning against the terror group ETA.

Many have compared O'Hagan's slaying with the death of Veronica Guerin. After exposing links between heroin dealers and the police, the Dublin-based journalist was attacked twice to "warn her off" and then shot in the head in 1996.

War on terrorism

But journalists are most at risk where so-called narco-terrorism has established its tightest grip, such as in Columbia.

FARC guerrillas in training
FARC guerrillas in training
The Inter-American Press Association's Unpunished Crimes Against Journalists says that 242 journalists have been killed in South America between October 1988 and July 2001.

Some were tortured or raped before execution, and a number of photographers and camera operators were shot through their view-finder eye.

Three Columbian journalists were murdered in a single week in July, allegedly by the Marxist FARC guerrilla group.

Columbia's right-wing United Self-Defense Force paramilitary group has meanwhile been implicated in the murder of four journalists and the abduction, torture and rape of a fifth.

All had been investigating the financial links between the terror groups, the drug warlords and the government.

It remains to be seen if the newly declared "war on terrorism" will put more journalists at risk.

See also:

01 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
Funeral of murdered journalist
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