BAGHDAD - The number of Iraqis killed in violence in May was the lowest since the start of the year, according to figures released on Wednesday.
A total of 177 Iraqis -- 102 civilians, 45 policemen and 30 soldiers -- died in attacks last month, data compiled by the health, interior and defence ministries showed.
The overall toll was the lowest monthly figure for Iraq since December 2010, when 151 Iraqis died. The previous low for 2011 was February, when 197 people were killed.
May's toll was around 16 percent lower than the previous month, when 211 Iraqis were killed in violence.
A further 266 people were wounded in May, including 115 civilians, 66 policemen and 85 soldiers. The figures also showed that 32 insurgents were killed and 155 arrested.
Although May saw a decline in violence, insurgent groups still managed to carry out several deadly attacks, particularly on May 19, when a spate of bombings against police in the flashpoint northern oil hub of Kirkuk killed at least 29 people, the worst violence in Iraq in two months.
Three days later, more than a dozen bomb attacks in and around Baghdad killed 19 Iraqis and two US soldiers.
On May 8, the accused mastermind of a Baghdad church siege last year led a mutiny at a prison in the capital in which six Iraqi policemen, including a brigadier general, and 11 inmates were killed.
And on May 5, a suicide bomber who drove his explosives-packed car into a police station in Hilla, south of Baghdad, killed 24 policemen.
The two US deaths on May 22 were the only American losses in May, and brought to 4,454 the number of US troops to have died in Iraq since the US-led invasion of March 2003, according to data compiled by independent website www.icasualties.org.
Around 45,000 US troops remain stationed in Iraq but they must all withdraw by the end of the year under the terms of a bilateral security pact. Iraqi leaders are still considering whether or not to ask for an extension of the military presence.