Iraq: The unknown death toll...
While the USA mourned early September the deaths of more than 1,000 soldiers in Iraq, it is obvious that much more Iraqis have died since the United States started the war in March 2003. However, no official or reliable figures exist regarding Iraq's national tragedy. Private estimates claim that 10,000 to 30,000 were killed across the occupied country.
At Sheikh Omar Clinic, a big book records 10,363 deaths in Baghdad and nearby towns alone since the war started. These deaths were caused by car bombings, clashes between Iraqis and occupation troops, mortar attacks, revenge killings and robberies, The AP reported.
These deaths recorded just from one of Iraq's 18 provinces and do not cover people who died in cities such as Najaf, Karbala, Fallujah, Tikrit, Mosul and Ramadi.
Iraqi dead include resistance fighters and US-backed policemen but many civilians who were shot dead by US fire, or blown apart by explosives. They also include innocent victims of crime that has surged in after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.
In an Islamic state where the dead are often buried quickly often without proper accounting by authorities, the real number of Iraqis whose lives were cut short in may never be known.
Iraq's authorities have not reported comprehensive figures on civilian deaths. The interim government did not even start trying to keep track until April 2004.
"It is difficult to establish the right number of casualties," said a spokeswoman for Amnesty International, Nicole Choueiry, according to The AP. The London-based human rights group estimates that over 10,000 Iraqi civilians died in the first year of the conflict alone.
However, Amnesty's figure was based in part on media reports that often simply repeated claims of American and Iraqi officials.
Iraq Body Count, a private organization that bases its data in part on reports by 40 media outlets, puts the number of civilian deaths since the conflict commenced at between 11,793 and 13,802.
Hazem al-Radini at the Human Rights Organization in Iraq said his organization estimates the toll at more than 30,000 civilian deaths. He said the group did not have any figures and based the statistics on press reports.
The Iraqi Health Ministry began tabulating civilian deaths in April. The ministry's statistics show 2,956 civilians, including 125 children, died across the country "as the result of a military act" between April 5 and Aug. 31. Of those, 829 were in Baghdad, the ministry figures indicate. (albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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