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Terrorism Deaths Rose in 2007, Including a Big Jump in Pakistan

The U.S. State Department says the number of attacks worldwide was roughly unchanged from 2006. Also, the latest findings about press freedoms around the world. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Saturday is World Press Freedom Day, a good time to talk about two new reports on press freedoms around the world. But first we look at another report that was in the news this week.

The American State Department released its yearly Country Reports on Terrorism. The National Counterterrorism Center reported more than fourteen thousand attacks around the world last year.

The number was about the same as the year before. But deaths increased almost nine percent, to more than twenty-two thousand last year.

The report said well over fifty percent of those killed or injured were Muslims, and most were victims of attacks in Iraq.

In Iraq, the number of attacks fell but the number of people killed, injured or kidnapped increased. In Afghanistan, both numbers were higher.

The report says attacks in Pakistan more than doubled last year as militancy and extremism spread. More than one thousand three hundred people were killed -- an increase of almost three hundred percent.

Internationally, there was a twenty-two percent increase in attacks on schools.

The report says al-Qaida and its allies remain the greatest terrorist threat to the United States and its partners. Many al-Qaida members have been captured or killed. But the report says the group has rebuilt some of its capabilities while operating in Pakistani tribal areas.

And it says al-Qaida leaders continued to plot attacks and build stronger connections with groups in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Osama bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is described now as the "strategic and operational planner" for the group.

The State Department said Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism. It says Iran provides aid to Palestinian terrorist groups, Lebanese Hezbollah, Iraq-based militants and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

The American list of countries declared state sponsors of terrorism remained at five: Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan and Cuba. But the report says Sudan continued to take steps to cooperate in the war on terrorism. And North Korea might soon leave the list. Officials say the country is not known to have supported any terrorist acts since nineteen eighty-seven.

But a separate report this week said North Korea has the world's most repressive media environment. The Freedom House organization says forty-two percent of all people in the world live without basic freedom of the media. It says freedoms decreased for the sixth straight year.

Another report, from the Committee to Protect Journalists, rated countries on efforts to find the killers of journalists. Over a nine-year period, governments in South Asia had the worst records in solving cases. The report says the countries included Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.