Reporters Without Borders provides financial help to families of killed journalists

Reporters Without Borders is providing financial help to the families of journalists killed in Iraq.

The group's secretary-general Robert Menard traveled to Baghdad this week to deliver the aid.

He said funds were provided to 20 families in the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq and 57 families elsewhere also would receive funds. He didn't say how much each family would receive.

"We will do the same for other families in the future," Menard said, according to a statement.

Menard also said he met with Iraq's President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and urged the authorities to go after those responsible for the killings of journalists and to adopt legislation that would promote press freedom.

He also referred to eight Iraqi journalists he said were being held by the Iraqi security forces and the U.S. Army, and he expressed concern about 12 Iraqi journalists who were taken hostage.

"They are detained on suspicion of links with terrorists without anyone producing evidence and without being brought to trial," he said.

Reporters Without Borders says at least 123 journalists and 51 media assistants have been killed since the U.S.-led war began in March 2003.

Three of those cited by the group were killed along with their driver Wednesday in a drive-by shooting near the northern city of Kirkuk.

Gunmen also stormed the offices of the independent Dijla radio station in a predominantly Sunni area in western Baghdad earlier this month, killing two employees and wounding five before bombing the building and knocking the station off the air.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova