Murder of Kenji Goto by Islamic terrorists brings total journalists killed in January to 23

Japanese freelance journalist Kenji Goto was apparently murdered by Islamic State terrorists on Saturday – making him the 23rd journalist and media worker worldwide killed doing their job in January (IFJ figures).

Sherif Mansour, from the Committee to Protect Journalists, said: “Islamic State militants have proven they do not care if you are a journalist from Syria, from the West or from the East. They only care about expanding their reign of terror.

"We are deeply concerned about the safety of all journalists in territory controlled by the militants – and about the information vacuum that has resulted from their bloody, intimidatory tactics."

According to the CPJ, at leasat 80 journalists have been killed covering the conflict in Syria over the last three years and more than 90 have been kidnapped. The group believes that around 20 journalists are currently missing in Syria.

Among those currently held hostage is British freelance journalist John Cantlie who has featured in a number of propaganda videos released by Islamic State.

Kenji Goto, 47, was a freelance journalist who founded his news agency, Independent Press, in 1996 and travelled to Chechnya, Albania, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Afghanistan to report on the humanitarian consequences of war. His documentaries were regularly aired on NHK, the national network in Japan.

Goto explained his decision to return to Syria in a video shot in Turkey in October.

He said: "Syrian people (have been) suffering for three years and a half. It's enough. So I would like to get the story of what ISIS wants to do."

He crossed the border shortly after shooting the video and headed towards the IS-held town of Raqaa.

Goto apparently felt his nationality might make him safer, as Japan is not involved in the military fight against IS.

The apparent murder of Koto follows that of Japanese security contractor Haruna Kukawa around a week ago.

A video posted by IS on 20 January demanded $200m from the Japanese government in exchange for the release of the Goto and Kukawa.

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