Thursday, September 21, 2006

U.N.: Iraq Civilian Deaths Hit a Record

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July and August hit 6,599, a record-high number that is far greater than initial estimates suggested, the United Nations said Wednesday.

The report from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq's Human Rights office highlighted the sectarian crisis gripping the country, offering a grim assessment across a range of indicators - worrying evidence of torture, unlawful detentions, 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, an average of more than 100 a day... 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."

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...

Complete article available here.


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