Iraq death toll on the rise during February
A total of 258 Iraqis were killed in violence last month, a sharp increase from January that saw the lowest casualty figures since the 2003 US-led invasion, authorities said on Sunday. Statistics compiled by the defence, interior and health ministries indicated that 211 civilians, 17 soldiers and 30 policemen lost their lives to violence across the country in February.
According to AFP, the death toll was up 35 percent on January's total of 191, which was the lowest figure since 2003. The latest casualty figures also showed that 456 civilians, 31 soldiers and 61 police were wounded in February.
The rise was in part attributable to a bloody February 13 suicide bombing in Iskandiriyah when at least 35 Shiite pilgrims on their way to the holy city of Karbala for a major religious ceremony were killed. "Because there were several suicide attacks in February, like the incident in Iskandiriyah, the toll of the victims increased in the month," said a senior police official.
In total more than 50 people died in a spate of attacks during the Arbaeen commemorations, which mark 40 days after the Ashura anniversary of the killing of Imam Hussein by Sunni caliph Yazid's armies in AD 680.
Attacks remain common in Baghdad and in provinces such as Diyala and Nineveh.