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PHOENIX -- There has been a sharp decline in the number of officers killed in the line of duty by criminals, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI compiled the data from law enforcement agencies across the country. Preliminary statistics reveal that 27 officers were categorized as feloniously killed in the line of duty in 2013 versus 49 officers the previous year. Most of the deaths happened in the South.

Nearly every incident involved a firearm, although one officer was killed by a car that was being used as a weapon.

According to an FBI news release, seven officers were killed as a result of ambushes, five officers died from injuries inflicted as a result of answering disturbance and five officers were engaged in tactical situations.

Three officers sustained fatal injuries while they were investigating suspicious persons or circumstances, three were conducting traffic pursuits or stops, and three officers were responding to robberies in progress or pursuing robbery suspects. One officer was killed as a result of an investigative activity.

"We provide data, research, instructional services and a lot of training to law enforcement from this information on lessons learned so we can reduce the number of incidents in the future," FBI Special Agent John Derbas said.

The final report will be released in the fall. Complete details will be available in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program's publication, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2013, which will be published on the FBI's website.

Results from 2012 can be found here.

Sandra Haros , Reporter

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