Media: The Associated Press
Byline: By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA and LEE KEATH
Date: 11 October 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq_More than 2,660 Iraqi civilians were killed in Baghdad in
September amid the wave of sectarian killings and insurgent attacks, an
increase of 400 over the month before, according to figures from the Iraqi
The increase came despite an intensified U.S.-Iraqi sweep of Baghdad that
was launched in mid-August in an attempt to put down the wave of violence
that has swept over the capital. The violence consists of a deadly
combination of bombings and shootings by Sunni insurgents and slayings by
Shiite and Sunni death squads.
The September numbers come as a controversial new study contends that nearly
655,000 Iraqis have died during the three-year-old conflict in Iraq _ more
than 10 times higher than other independent estimates of the toll.
The study, published Thursday on the Web site of The Lancet, a medical
journal, was based on a survey of households in Iraq, not a body count, and
quickly raised skepticism among some Iraq experts.
An accurate count of total Iraqi deaths since the war's start has been
difficult to obtain.
A year ago, U.S. President George W. Bush put the number at 30,000 but has
not cited a toll since. A respected private group called Iraqi Body Count
says it has recorded about 44,000 to 49,000 civilian Iraqi deaths. But it
notes that those totals are based on media reports, which it says probably
overlook "many if not most civilian casualties."
The figures for the number of civilian deaths in September in Baghdad came
in an official monthly report from the Iraqi Health Ministry to the Cabinet
on the number of Baghdad victims of violent deaths, two senior Health
Ministry officials told The Associated Press.
The report said 2,667 civilians had died violent deaths in September _ an
average of 89 a day. Those deaths include bodies found dumped around Baghdad
and the victims of explosions, shootings and other attacks, the two
The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the government has
issued orders that the death figures not be released. Civilian casualty
numbers are always sensitive, and several other officials in the Health and
Interior ministries contacted by the AP refused to give statistics.
By comparison, 2,222 people died violent deaths in August in Baghdad,
according to a U.N. report published in September, which is also based on
official statistics from the Iraqi Health Ministry.
The two ministry officials said the U.N. number was accurate for the August
The monthly figures include two categories. One is the number of bodies
found in Baghdad, provided from the city morgue, where the bodies are taken
to determine the cause of death.
In September, the morgue reported 1,471 bodies of people who died from
Shiite and Sunni death squads are known to kidnap members of the opposing
sect, then dump bodies of their victims, often bound and tortured. So a
large proportion of the 1,471 bodies are likely from sectarian killings _
though they would also include victims of criminal kidnappings and murders.
The other category included in the monthly figure encompasses the victims of
explosions, shootings or other attacks, reported by hospitals. They numbered
1,196 in September, according to the report, the two Health Ministry
In August, 1,536 bodies were brought to the morgue, according to the U.N.
The killings have continued in October, although the Health Ministry does
not compile totals until the end of the month.
Iraqi officials have announced between 50 to 60 bodies a day discovered in
the streets of Baghdad several times during the month of October so far.
The past summer has seen a startling increase in bloodshed, centered in the
capital, after the wave of sectarian violence was sparked by the February
bombing of a Shiite shrine in the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad.
The deadliest month was July, when 3,590 people were killed across the
country _ 2,884 of them in Baghdad, according to the U.N. The number killed
countrywide fell in August to 3,009, the U.N. said.
The Health Ministry officials who spoke to the AP did not have September
figures for the entire country, only for Baghdad.
In comparison, 2,669 people were killed across Iraq in May and 3,149 in
June, the U.N. report said.