(teleSUR) A media watchdog said while the number of media staff killed is lower than in 2015, threats against reports are reaching worrying levels all over the world.

At least 93 journalists and media staff were killed in 2016 around the world as a direct result of their work, the International Federation of Journalists has said, with two Latin American countries, Guatemala and Mexico, making it to the top five countries where journalists have been killed.

Attribution 2.0 Generic Flickr: M M
Attribution 2.0 Generic Flickr: M M

The media watchdog said the figure was 19 less than in 2015, but warned that intimidation and threats against reporters signal a worsening trend in the attacks on journalists.

“Any decrease in violence against journalists and media staff is always welcome but these statistics and the continued deliberate targeting of media workers in many incidents causing loss of life give little room for comfort nor ground for hope to see the end of the current media safety crisis,” IFJ president Philippe Leruth said in a statement.

“These levels of violence in media should spur into action all those committed to protecting journalists. There must be no impunity for those crimes.”

The 93 journalists killed in 2016 lost their lives as a result of targeted attacks, bomb blasts or caught in the cross-fire, the group said.

Iraq saw the highest number of deaths at 15, while Afghanistan came second at 13 as a result of the Taliban attack on a staff van of TOLO TV, which killed seven journalists and support staff, after declaring the TV station as a military target.

Meanwhile, 11 journalists were killed in Mexico, eight in Yemen, six in both Guatemala and in Syria, and five in both India and Pakistan.

In addition to the 93 who lost their lives in the line of duty and in targeted attacks linked to their work, 20 Brazilian sports reporters were among those killed in the recent plane crash in Colombia which also claimed the lives of most of Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team.  Also, nine Russian journalists were killed in a recent military plane crash.

The organization also warned the number of journalists killed in 2016 could be higher as some have gone missing, but there is not enough information to confirm their death.

“The number of journalists and media staff killed for doing their work could be higher if it weren’t for lack of credible information on these missing cases and for the self-censorship by journalists in some countries to avoid drawing the unwelcome attention of crime barons,” the group’s General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said in the press release.

According to the organization’s killing tally, the Arab World and Middle East has the highest killing tally with 30, followed by Asia Pacific with 28 killings, Latin America with 24, Africa 8 and Europe with three killings.

This post originally ran on teleSUR.