First Published: 2009-12-01

 
Iraq November death toll lowest since US invasion
 

Official data shows total of 122 people killed last month, comprising 88 civilians, 22 policemen, 12 soldiers.

 

Middle East Online

By Prashant Rao - BAGHDAD

Is security finally improving in Iraq?



November saw the lowest number of violent deaths in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion, official figures showed Tuesday, despite grim predictions of a rise in violence ahead of elections next year.

Official data compiled by the ministries of defence, interior and health showed that a total of 122 people were killed last month, comprising 88 civilians, 22 policemen and 12 soldiers.

The figures are markedly lower than those for October, when violence killed a total of 410 people across Iraq, most notably in twin suicide vehicle bombings near government offices in Baghdad left more than 150 people dead.

In addition to those who died in attacks in November, 332 civilians were wounded along with 56 policemen and 44 soldiers. Thirty-eight insurgents were killed and 510 arrested, according to the ministries.

The previous lowest monthly death toll was in May, when 155 people were killed, including 124 civilians.

The latest figures come despite warnings from senior Iraqi and US officials of a possible upswing in violence in the lead-up to parliamentary elections due early next year.

General Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, warned last month of politically-motivated violence in a bid to undermine the government and security forces in the run-up to the polls, whose date has yet to be finalised.

"We believe that there will be an attempt to conduct more attacks between now and the election," he said.

His remarks echoed those of Iraq's army chief Lieutenant General Ali Ghaidan Majeed and of the deputy commanding general for US operations in Iraq, Major General John D. Johnson, made in October.

Though the election was originally slated for January 16, deeply divided lawmakers have yet to pass a law that would govern the polls and parliament speaker Iyad al-Samarrai said he now expected them to be held in March.

As in October, a total of two US soldiers died in combat in Iraq in November -- the lowest monthly toll since the 2003 invasion.

A total of 4,367 American soldiers have died in Iraq since the invasion, according to figures compiled by the independent website icasualties.org.

Currently around 115,000 US troops are stationed in Iraq, although that figure is set to drop to 50,000 by the end of August next year ahead of a complete withdrawal from the country by the end of 2011 as required by a US-Iraq security agreement signed last year.

The latest monthly compilation is in stark contrast to the rampant sectarian bloodshed that engulfed Iraq in 2006 and 2007 -- more than 2,000 people were killed in January 2007 alone, according to the government's figures.

At least 94,000 Iraqis have been killed since the 2003 invasion, according to the British non-governmental website iraqbodycount.org.

 

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