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Death toll in Iraq rises up to 6,000 in May and June - UN

New York, July 19, IRNA-Some 6,000 civilians were slain across Iraq in May and June, a spike in deaths that reflected rising sectarian attacks across the country, the United Nations said.

A report from the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq describes a wave of lawlessness and crime, including assassinations, bombings, kidnapping, torture and intimidation.

"Hundreds of teachers, judges, religious leaders and doctors have been targeted for death, and thousands of people have fled." "While welcoming recent positive steps by the government to promote national reconciliation, the report raises alarm at the growing number of casualties among the civilian population killed or wounded during indiscriminate or targeted attacks by terrorists or insurgents," the UN said.

The grim findings of the report were only made more tragic in the last two days, when more than 120 people were killed. In the worst attacks, 53 perished in a suicide van bombing Tuesday in Kufa, and 50 were slain Monday in a market in Mahmoudiya.

"Some 2,669 civilians were killed in May and 3,149 were killed in June. Those numbers combined two counts: from the Ministry of Health, which records deaths reported by hospitals; and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad, which tallies the unidentified bodies it receives."

The report charts a month-by-month increase in the number of civilians killed, from 710 in January to 1,129 in April.

In the first six months of the year, it said 14,338 people had been killed.

The report's figures were higher than some other counts, but, the UN said many killings go unreported.

The spike comes despite the formation of a democratic government, which took power on July 20.

"Parts of Iraq have seen "collusion between criminal gangs, militias and sectarian 'hit groups,' alleged death squads, vigilante groups and religious extremists."

The UN report also details the rise in kidnapping, particularly of large groups of people. On May 17, for example, the report said 15 Tae Kwon Do athletes were kidnapped in western Iraq.

"There is no news regarding their whereabouts."

And children are frequently the victims, perishing in large crowds or sometimes even targeted themselves, the report said.

"Violence, corruption, inefficiency of state organs to exert control over security, establish the rule of law and protect individual and collective rights all lead to inability of both the state and the family to meet the needs of children."

The government still has not pursued many allegations of torture and other inhumane treatment in prisons and detention centers, the UN said.

... Payvand News - 7/19/06 ... --

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