A total of 72 journalists were killed worldwide during the first half of 2012, an increase of 33 percent over the same period the year before, the Press Emblem Campaign said Monday.

The PEC said in a communique that this increase is the result of the "intensification of internal conflicts" and it pointed to Syria and Mexico as the countries where the most journalists have been killed since the beginning of the year: 20 and 8, respectively.

Latin American and the Caribbean was the region where most of the victims were concentrated, with 23 deaths - eight in Mexico, six in Brazil, four in Honduras, two in Bolivia and one each in Colombia, Panama and Haiti.

In the Middle East, during the first six months of the year, 22 journalists died, all but two of them killed in Syria.

In Asia, 17 journalists died and 10 were killed in Africa.

According to PEC general secretary Blaise Lempen, access to information has become more difficult since the beginning of this year and in Syria the authorities have blocked the reporting of events and the dissemination abroad of other information concerning human rights violations.

If the trend continues unabated, 2012 will be a record year for the deaths of journalists, the PEC official said. EFE