NEW YORK - The number of journalists killed in Iraq is now similar to the total who died in World War 2, underscoring the risks reporters face in informing the public about the conflict, press advocates say.

The deaths of CBS News cameraman Paul Douglas and soundman James Brolan yesterday increased the number of journalists deaths in Iraq to 71, as listed by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Other groups have different figures. The Freedom Forum, a foundation dedicated to issues of free press and free speech, lists 79 deaths, while Paris-based Reporters Without Borders lists 66 journalists killed plus 30 media assistants killed.

The Arlington, Virginia-based Freedom Forum lists 69 journalists known to have been killed during World War 2 although it also notes that number is probably low due to underreporting.

"The danger is omnipresent for journalists in Iraq. There are few places to take refuge," said Joel Campagna, a senior programme coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists.

"The number killed could easily be higher if you take into account the number of close calls and the number of journalists who have been abducted and released," he said.

The committee does not itself have a number for journalists killed in World War 2. It considers the Iraq war the most dangerous for journalists in the group's 25-year history.

- REUTERS