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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

IRAQ: Sharp drop in number of violence-related deaths, government says

BAGHDAD, 20 September 2007 (IRIN) - The number of victims of violence in Iraq has dropped by over 50 percent since February 2007, health and security officials said on 19 September.

"Between January and September 2006, the number of violence-related deaths in all [of] Iraq was about 27,000, while in the same period of 2007 the number of dead was about 7,000," Adel Muhsin, the Health Ministry's inspector-general, told IRIN in a phone interview.

"Due to unrelenting violence during the said period [January-September 2006], Baghdad’s main morgue was receiving a daily average of 100-150 dead bodies of the victims of violence, while nowadays the number is about 15 dead bodies a day, and about 50 percent of these deaths were in normal incidents," Muhsin said.

Since Operation Imposing Law was launched by US and Iraqi forces on 14 February, the number of those thought to be victims of Shia death squads has dropped dramatically in Baghdad, and there has also been a lull in violent attacks by Sunni insurgents.

Security crackdown

Security spokesman Brig Qassim al-Mousawi said the seven-month government crackdown had “achieved security and stability in the capital by imposing the same pressure on all sides”.

"Our forces are now in control of most of Baghdad, and residents are cooperating actively with them to hunt down terrorists," al-Mousawi told a press conference on 19 September in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

"There are still terrorist attacks here and there in Baghdad but these attacks, including assassinations and kidnappings, have dropped nearly 75 percent since February," al-Mousawi said.

In one of Baghdad's main hospitals, a remarkable decrease in violence-related deaths has been reported since the crackdown.

"We registered a 50-60 percent drop in the number of unidentified dead bodies, victims of explosions and assassinations and [in terms of the number of] wounded as well," said Haqi Ismail, a director at al-Yarmouk hospital in Baghdad's restive suburb of Karkh.

"And that of course has decreased the pressure on the hospital, especially in its emergency and surgery wards, as [previously] we had been overwhelmed day and night by the number of wounded and dead," Ismail said.

However, the country's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, told members of parliament on 10 September that Iraqi forces were still not ready to take over security from the US military across the country.

"There have been tangible improvements in security in the recent past in Baghdad and the provinces, but it is not enough," he told parliament.

He said violence had dropped 75 percent in the Baghdad area since the USA had begun providing additional troops.



Copyright © IRIN 2007
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States.
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