Daily Body Count In Baghdad Falls




 
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Daily Body Count In Baghdad Falls
 
January 24th, 2007  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Daily Body Count In Baghdad Falls


Daily Body Count In Baghdad Falls
Los Angeles Times
January 24, 2007
U.S. forces attribute the decrease to greater pressure on insurgents and militias, but others aren't sure trend is real.
By Borzou Daragahi, Times Staff Writer
BAGHDAD Iraqi authorities found 19 bodies of young men scattered around Baghdad on Tuesday, a sharp drop from the scores found each day several weeks ago. The reported daily body count for the last week or so has hovered around 30 or lower.
The bodies of late also have not shown signs of torture often associated with Shiite Muslim militias, morgue and hospital officials say.
Officials cautioned that the casualty figures were preliminary and sketchy. Previous drops in Baghdad violence have been followed by upsurges.
U.S. and Iraqi officials hope an increase in the number of American troops, political pressure and aggressive new tactics to protect Baghdad neighborhoods can reduce the level of violence in the capital and pave the way for political reconciliation and an end to the country's undeclared sectarian civil war. In recent days, additional U.S. troops have begun to be deployed in certain volatile neighborhoods.
U.S. military officials in the capital's tumultuous northern district of Adhamiya confirmed the statistical drop shown in morgue and police casualty figures collected daily by the Los Angeles Times.
"During the last two weeks, Task Force 1-26 has seen a decrease in found dead bodies in Adhamiya," said Army Capt. Jared Purcell, spokesman for a Taji-based unit that patrols parts of northeastern Baghdad.
Purcell attributed the decline, which he said was in keeping with The Times' estimate of a 50% drop, to stepped-up pressure on cells of Sunni Arab insurgents and Shiite militiamen, including raids against high-level insurgents. Political pressure and aggressive patrols by the U.S. military and the Iraqi police and army are also factors, he said.
Some observers speculated that the drop in the number of bodies bearing marks of torture indicated a decline in Shiite militia activity, but Purcell said the decrease was not necessarily attributable to Shiite groups lying low.
"In our area of operations there are both Sunni and Shia terrorist groups," he said in an e-mail.
Still, violence continued across Iraq on Tuesday, with at least two U.S. military personnel and 56 Iraqis reported killed. And five Western security officers employed by Blackwater USA were killed in a helicopter crash in a residential neighborhood in east-central Baghdad amid reports of ground fire, officials and witnesses said.
The military said no U.S. forces were involved in the crash, but North Carolina-based Blackwater said the five employees, all American citizens, were killed while working on behalf of the U.S. government. Private security contractors sometimes dispatch small helicopters to accompany vehicle convoys throughout the country.
The incident apparently was the second in which an aircraft was forced down in Iraq in less than a week the first being Saturday's crash of a Black Hawk helicopter northeast of Baghdad, which killed all 12 U.S. soldiers aboard. An American official in Washington said initial evidence suggested that helicopter was downed by ground fire.
Official word of Tuesday's incident coincided with reports that a chopper had been fired upon while flying low over a Sunni district.
Witnesses said authorities sealed off the area, known as Fadhil. They also reported hearing heavy gunfire and helicopters scouring the district after the apparent crash.
The U.S. military, meanwhile, reported the combat deaths of two service members.
A Marine assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force died Sunday of wounds from enemy action south of Baghdad. A U.S. soldier assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Monday of wounds from enemy action while operating in Al Anbar province.
The deaths brought to 3,060 the total number of American military fatalities in the Iraq theater since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, according to icasualties.org.
At least two British soldiers were injured when a Katyusha rocket struck their base in the southern city of Basra, a spokeswoman there said.
Bombings, shootings and rocket fire roiled a wide swath of the country.
In Baghdad, a day after a pair of car bombs killed 88 people in a crowded market, at least nine bomb blasts targeting official vehicle convoys and civilians shook the city, killing 11 people and injuring 36, many of them severely. Among those killed was Diya Meqoter, a business school professor who starred on a popular reality television show in which entrepreneurs received small loans to start businesses.
South of the capital in the religiously mixed province of Babil, gunmen killed a suspected former member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and a contractor working for the U.S. military.
Police also discovered the body of a police officer inside an explosives-packed vehicle, a booby trap apparently meant to kill responding officers.
Mortar shells struck various locations in Babil, killing 10 people and injuring six, many of them huddled in a tent during a pilgrimage to Karbala for the annual festival commemorating the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, a revered Shiite saint.
An Iraqi hospital official in Ramadi, Ahmed Jassem, said that at least 10 Iraqis were killed and 13 injured during apparent fighting between U.S. troops and insurgents in the war-torn capital of the western province of Al Anbar. The account could not be confirmed. The U.S. military said it killed nine insurgents and wounded another nine in various clashes with armed men in the city.
Violence also erupted in Iraq's north. In Kirkuk, capital of an oil-rich province claimed by Iraq's Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Turkmens, at least two Iraqis were killed and eight injured in insurgent violence.
Clashes broke out overnight between insurgents and police officers in the mostly Sunni Arab city of Mosul, leaving at least five officers dead and three wounded.
Times staff writer Saif Hameed and special correspondents in Baghdad, Basra, Hillah, Kirkuk, Mosul and Ramadi contributed to this report.
 


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