Civilian death toll in Iraq climbs again, to more 6,599 in July and August

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Media: The Associated Press
Date: 21 September 2006


UNITED NATIONS_The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July and August hit
6,599, a record high number that is far greater than initial estimates had
suggested and points to the grave sectarian crisis gripping the country, the
United Nations said Wednesday.

The report from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq's Human Rights office
offered a grim assessment across a range of indicators, reporting worrying
evidence of torture, unlawful detentions, the growth of sectarian militias
and death squads, and a rise in "honor killings" of women.

That raises new questions about U.S. and Iraqi forces' ability to bring
peace to Baghdad, where the bulk of the violent deaths occurred. Iraq's
government, set up in 2006, is "currently facing a generalized breakdown of
law and order which presents a serious challenge to the institutions of
Iraq," it said.

According to the U.N., which releases the figures every two months, violent
civilian deaths in July reached an unprecedented high of 3,590 people, an
average of more than 100 a day. The August toll was 3,009 people, the report

The lower August number may have been the result of a security crackdown in
Baghdad, though it was partly offset by a rise in attacks elsewhere,
including in the northern city of Mosul.

For the previous period, the U.N. had reported just under 6,000 deaths _
2,669 in May and 3,149 in June. That was up from 1,129 in April, and 710 in

Of the total for July and August, the report said 5,106 of the dead were
from Baghdad.

The report attributed many of the deaths to the rising sectarian tensions
that have pushed Iraq toward the verge of civil war.

"These figures reflect the fact that indiscriminate killings of civilians
have continued throughout the country while hundreds of bodies appear
bearing signs of severe torture and execution style killing," the report
said. "Such murders are carried out by death squads or by armed groups, with
sectarian or revenge connotations."

At the heart of the U.N. findings are casualty figures that combine two
counts: from the Ministry of Health, which records deaths reported by
hospitals; and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad, which tallies the
unidentified bodies it receives.

The U.N. investigators who compiled the report said it was likely that even
those numbers were low. In July, for example, the Health Ministry reported
no people killed in Anbar, the chaotic province that includes the extremely
violent cities of Ramadi and Fallujah.

Also, the Medico-Legal Institute's number of 1,536 was the same as the
number of violent deaths in Baghdad reported by the Iraqi Health Ministry
earlier this month.

The U.S. military had initially claimed a drastic drop in the death toll for
August, but the estimate was revised upward after the United States revealed
it had not counted people killed by bombs, mortars, rockets or other mass

The report said torture was a major concern in Iraq and the bodies showed
significant evidence of it.

"Bodies found at the Medico-legal Institute often bear signs of severe
torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical
substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes,
missing teeth and wounds caused by power drills or nails," the report said.

On other issues, the report painted a similarly grim picture. It said about
300,000 people had been displaced in Iraq since the bombing of a shrine in
Samara in February, and reported a rise in honor killings against women.

The U.N. has also received several reports of Iraqi journalists facing
prosecution for their reporting. In one case, for example, three reporters
working for a newspaper faced trial for articles criticizing a regional
government and accusing police and the judicial system there of violating
basic human rights.

The report said more than 35,000 Iraqis were under detention, including
13,571 by multinational forces. That represents a 28 percent increase over
the number at the end of June, it said.

The U.N. special rapporteur has received allegations of torture in prisons
run by Iraq's interior and defense ministries, as well as ones under
multinational control.

Iraqi non-governmental organizations "expressed their frustration at the
current situation and stressed the urgent need for the U.N. and other
international entities to intervene in order to prevent further human rights
violations," the report said.

However, the U.N. special rapporteur for torture, Manfred Nowak, has so far
been unable to go to Iraq because the government has not provided him the
necessary invitation, it said.