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Iraqi civilian death toll reaches all-time high

London Telegraph | January 2, 2007
Richard Holt

The number of Iraqi civilians killed in political violence hit an all-time high in December, according to official government figures.

The figure of 1,930 for the month is up from 548 in January, before a huge increase in violence following the destruction of a major Shia shrine in February.

The Interior Ministry figures showed a total of 12,320 civilian deaths in what officials called "terrorist violence" in 2006.

The figures are seen as an important, if partial, indicator of levels of violence in Iraq.

All casualty figures for the country have been disputed. A figure of 3,700 civilian deaths in October, the latest tally given by the United Nations based on data from the Health Ministry and the Baghdad morgue, was branded exaggerated by the Iraqi government.

The Interior Ministry figures appear to reflect trends consistent with official comments from the government and from the US military, which doesn't give casualty figures.

According to the Interior Ministry, the December figure, up from 1,850 violent civilian deaths in November, included people killed in bombings and shootings but not deaths classed as "criminal".

The ministry said 125 police officers and 25 Iraqi soldiers were killed in December, similar totals to November and October.

US military reports show 112 American soldiers were killed in December, the deadliest month for them in two years. Just before New Year, the total US death toll since the invasion of March 2003 passed 3,000.

The number of British troops killed since the invasion reached 127 when Sgt Graham Hesketh was killed when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Basra last week.


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