BRUSSELS - One hundred and eighteen journalists and media staff were killed around the world in 2014, with Pakistan and Syria the deadliest countries, the International Federation of Journalists said Wednesday.

The IFJ said those killed, 13 more than in 2013, were either targeted for their work or caught in the cross-fire while another 17 died in accidents or natural disasters while on assignment.

It renewed its call to governments to "make the protection of journalists their priority".

Journalists are "targeted not only to restrict the free flow of information, but increasingly as leverage to secure huge ransoms and political concessions through sheer violence," IFJ president Jim Boumelha said in a statement.

He said some media organisations are now wary of sending reporters to war zones or even using material from freelancers there, warning that war coverage will "be poorer for lack of independent witnesses" unless media safety is improved.

Pakistan was the deadliest country with 14 journalists killed, followed by 12 dead in Syria and nine each in Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories.

Among those killed this year was AFP journalist Sardar Ahmad, 40, who was shot dead in March when Taliban militants stormed a hotel in the Afghan capital Kabul. He died along with his wife and two of his three children.

Eight journalists each were killed in Iraq and Ukraine while six died in Honduras and five in Mexico.

IFJ said the public beheadings of journalists, including US freelancers James Foley and Steven Sotloff, by the Islamic State militant group were a "game changer in the governments' attitude to media projection."

The IFJ figures, which include presenters and other staff such as drivers working for the media, are sharply higher than those given by the Committee to Protect Journalists which said a week ago that 60 journalists were killed this year.

Another watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, reported on December 16 that 66 reporters had died in 2014.

In Pakistan, like the previous years, 2014 remained tough for the journalists as more than a dozen of them lost life in different terror related and sponsored violence while scores other received threat calls and intimidation letters.

Media houses were attacked and the media persons performing field duty thrashed by the police and the political activists. Despite the fact media in Pakistan faced intense situation some media groups showed schism while other posed neutrality.

The first casualty of the journalist took place in Larkana where Shan Dahar fell victim to a terror attack. In Sindh, Jewan Arian was another terror victim from Khairpur. In Punjab, Yaqub Shahzad from Hafizabad and Mian Nadeem Haider from Mianwali died in violence. Irshad Mastung and Ghulam Rasool were killed in their office in Quetta, Balochistan, while another Afzal Khwaja in Jaffarabad in what is dominantly believed to be a terror-related incident.

The murder of the 14 media persons raised the countrywide death toll of journalists to over 100 during the last decade. Except in two cases, the culprits have been traced out while the families of the victim journalists are continuing to live in deep miseries.

Senior anchorperson of a private TV channel Hamid Mir faced life attempt in Karachi. Mir blamed a secret agency of the country for the attack which led to a propaganda war between the state elements and the media organistion he is working for. Another anchorman of a TV channel, Raza Rumi, narrowly escaped a bid on his life in which his driver was killed.

In addition to it, four workers associated with a private TV channel were gunned down in North Nazimabad Karachi when they were sitting in their DSNG. A bomb was hurled at the residence of Jamshed Baguwan, Bureau Chief of the same channel, in Peshawar. Zafar Aheer, resident Editor of an Urdu daily was kidnapped and subjected to torture.