At least 60 journalists around the world were killed on the job in 2014, including an unusually high proportion of international correspondents, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in its annual report Tuesday.

The last three years have been the deadliest for journalists since the New York-based watchdog group started compiling records in 1992.

This year's toll marked a drop from 2013, when at least 70 journalists were killed. CPJ is investigating 18 more 2014 deaths to determine whether they were work-related.

Almost half of those killed this year died in the Middle East, and nearly 40 percent were deliberately targeted, the group reported.

Once again, local journalists made up the majority of those killed. But with Westerners often deliberately targeted in conflict zones, nearly a quarter of the deaths were members of the international media, CPJ said. That is about double the proportion that the group has documented in recent years.

They included James Foley and Steven Sotloff, two American freelance journalists kidnapped and beheaded by Islamic State militants while covering the conflict in Syria, as well as German photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was shot by an Afghan police officer while covering elections in Afghanistan for the Associated Press.

Foley and Sotloff were among at least 17 journalists killed in Syria this year, making it the deadliest country for media workers for the third year in a row. CPJ has confirmed 79 media deaths in the country since a civil war began in 2011.