A single bullet killed Marlene Garcia-Esperat in front of her family at her home in Tacurong city, in the Philippines. Garcia-Esperat, 45, was already under police protection as a result of death threats, but she had let her two guards leave early because it was the Easter holidays. In the evening, a lone gunman walked into Garcia-Esperat's home and shot her once in the head. Her 10-year-old daughter was present at the time. A bomb under the driver's seat of his Alfa Romeo killed Samir Kassir on June 2 last year, outside his home in Beirut's Ashrafiyeh neighbourhood. Investigations into the assassination of Kassir, 45, are ongoing, but rumours are rife that the Syrian government was involved. Fifteen shots, fired by American soldiers into his car, killed Ahmed Wael Bakri on June 28, in Southern Baghdad. It was reported that Bakri, 30, was driving from work to his in-laws' home in southern Baghdad, and failed to pull over for a US convoy while trying to pass a traffic accident. The US embassy in Baghdad issued a statement of condolence to the family, saying that an investigation was under way but called the incident an 'unintentional killing'. Garcia-Esperat, Kassir and Bakri were all journalists. They were three of the 47 confirmed cases of deaths in the line of duty for journalists worldwide last year, according to a newly released analysis by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Although last year's death toll was lower than the decade-high of 57 recorded in 2004, 2005 was still a deadly year for journalists. Over the past 10 years, the CPJ recorded an annual average of 34 deaths. Targeted attacks on journalists, however, have increased. More than three-quarters of journalists killed last year were murdered to silence their criticism or punish them for their work, according to the CPJ. In 2004, just under two-thirds of the 57 deaths were a result of murder. Even in the war zone of Iraq, which was the deadliest location for journalists last year with 22 deaths, Bakri's case was an exception, with murder accounting for more than 70 per cent of the recorded deaths. Journalists were also targeted in terrorist operations, as indicated by eight fatal abductions last year. In total, 60 journalists have died in Iraq since the war began in March 2003, making it the deadliest conflict for journalists the CPJ has recorded in its 24-year history, surpassing the 58 deaths during the four years of the Algerian conflict in the 1990s. A look closer to home, however, reveals a different story of attacks on the press. Only one journalist has been recorded by the CPJ as killed in China since 1992 - Feng Zhaoxia, an investigative reporter of the Gejie Daobao, who was found in a ditch with his throat slit outside Xian in 2001. Kristin Jones, Asia research associate for CPJ, told the South China Morning Post that this was largely because the greatest threat to the press in China came from the government, to which other methods were available, such as censorship, legal action and detention. 'On December 1, 2005, there were 32 journalists imprisoned in China, according to CPJ research - more than any other country in the world,' Ms Jones said. 'In this sense, Chinese authorities have had a monopoly on controlling the press. 'The administration of President Hu Jintao has demonstrated a real antipathy towards freedom of expression and the press in China, and that is unlikely to improve in the near future. The government's efforts to control and suppress information in China are ambitious and sophisticated. In the government's eyes, these policies are meeting with success, and it seems unlikely they will be curtailed.' Cheung Ping-ling, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Journalists' Association, said the central government's attacks on the press were widespread but generally more subtle than outright violence. She said it was common for Hong Kong journalists on assignment on the mainland to be detained for several hours and then released. 'If you accumulate that over the course of a year's work or more, then it adds up to a lot of hours. It's also psychological violence because you never know when and if they will release you,' she said. In more prominent cases, the period of detention can be much greater. Hong Kong journalist Ching Cheong, for example, has been detained on the mainland since last May on charges of spying for Taiwan. His case was passed over to the prosecutors' office in Beijing only recently. The central government, however, is not the only source of attacks on the mainland's press. 'As the press in China has become increasingly market-oriented, journalists are reporting aggressively on crime and corruption,' Ms Jones said. '[The] situation is changing as journalists face violent attacks from the subjects of their reporting.' In 2004, the CPJ reported on the case of photojournalist Tony Huang, who suffered 'a long, gruesome scar, a reminder of one of those attacks, less than a year ago, when he was chased down and beaten by a criminal gang he was investigating undercover'. Ms Cheung said violence was also often instigated by 'unidentified persons' who could be an agent of the state, criminal elements, or virtually anyone. Such was the case last October, when men identifying themselves only as 'villagers' attacked South China Morning Post reporter Leu Siew Ying and Radio France Internationale reporter Abel Segretin to prevent their reporting of Taishi villagers' attempts to oust their village chief. 'Lawlessness is a problem, and the central government is unprepared to defend journalists' right to report,' Ms Jones said. She added that this was consistent with a long-term global trend - those who attacked or murdered journalists were rarely punished. CPJ estimated that about 90 per cent of the slayings were carried out with impunity over the years. Even in Hong Kong, where the rule of law and the efficiency of our police is trumpeted, crimes against journalists - such as the chopping attack on publisher Leung Tin-wai in 1996 and the mail bomb delivered to Ming Pao headquarters last year - often remained unsolved, Ms Cheung said. 'I have not seen a single such case ever cracked by the police,' she said. 'It is very disappointing.'