February: Iraqi death toll up, U.S. down
The number of Iraqis killed in February increased by 33 percent compared to January, reversing a six-month trend of reduced violence, AFP reported on Saturday. The combined figures obtained from the interior, defence and health ministries indicated that the total number of Iraqis killed in February was 721, including 636 civilians, compared with 541 dead in January.
The February death toll climbed after monthly tolls of 541 in January, 568 in December, 606 in November, 887 in October, 917 in September and 1,856 in August. The number of people wounded in February was 847.
Meanwhile, at least 29 American soldiers were killed while serving in Iraq in February, the third-lowest monthly casualty toll for the U.S. military since the American-led invasion in 2003, according the Associated Press. Troop fatalities fell from 40 in January, and also dropped from February 2007, when at least 81 troops died in Iraq.
At least 3,973 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to the AP's count.
The violence continued Saturday when two people died and 10 were hurt in an attack on Shiite pilgrims heading home from the Arbaeen religious ceremony in Karbala, police in northern Iraq said. Gunmen ambushed the pilgrims on the highway near the town of Sarha, some 100 kilometres south of Kirkuk, said police Colonel Abbas Mohammed. Eight of those wounded were women.