ROME, MARCH 22, 2012 ( According to a report published Wednesday by the Rome-based Fides news agency, at least 1,000 missionaries were killed in the period from 1980 to 2011.

In the years 1980-89 there are 115 deaths among missionaries recorded. This number is below the true total, Fides said, as it only refers to confirmed cases.

In the following decade there was a sharp increase in deaths, for a total of 604. Among the causes for the much higher number was a widening of the criteria for counting deaths. Instead of just being deaths due to direct religious persecution the number now includes all those killed in a violent manner in the course of their pastoral duties.

As well, the Rwanda conflict in 1994 caused at least 248 victims among missionary workers. Fides also mentioned improvements in the mass media, with news being spread from even isolated places, as another reason for the higher total.

In the period 2001-11 there were 255 recorded deaths among missionaries. In the most recent year, 2011 there were 26 missionaries killed: 18 priests, 4 women religious, and 4 laypeople.