Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Something We All Should Keep in Mind: U.N Reports Over 3,000 Iraqi Civilians Killed in June

Here's something that we all ought to keep in mind (especially my American readers):

According to an article in today's New York Times, the United Nations has now reported that an average of more than 100 civilians per day were killed in Iraq last month, bringing the monthly total to over 3,000 civilians killed, the highest monthly tally of violent deaths since the fall of Baghdad.

The death toll, drawn from Iraqi government agencies, was the most precise measurement of civilian deaths provided by any government organization since the invasion and represented a dramatic increase over daily media reports, the NY Times reports.

United Nations officials also said that the number of violent deaths had been steadily increasing since at least last summer. In the first six months of this year, the civilian death toll jumped more than 77 percent, from 1,778 in January to 3,149 in June, the organization said.

This sharp upward trend reflected the dire security situation in Iraq as sectarian violence has worsened and Iraqi and American government forces have been powerless to stop it.

Underscoring the report, a suicide bomber attacked a marketplace in the southern Shiite holy town of Kufa today, killing 53 people and wounding at least 105, according to local hospital officials.

Kufa is a stronghold of Moktada al-Sadr, the powerful Shiite cleric who counts an enormous following among the Shiite poor and dispossessed in Baghdad and southern Iraq. The militia loyal to him, the Mahdi Army, has been blamed for many recent kidnappings and assassinations of Sunni Arabs.

Kufa and the nearby Shiite holy city of Najaf — because of their vastly Shiite populations and tight control by Shiite militias and the Shiite-dominated security forces — have been largely spared the sort of sectarian violence that has ravaged mixed cities like Baghdad and Baquba.

But today’s attack, coupled with several other recent suicide attacks in both cities, suggested an ominous deterioration in security even in Iraq’s demographically homogenous populations.

The full New York Times article can be found here.

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