Share This Page

United Nations says 703 killed in Iraq in February attacks

| Saturday, March 1, 2014, 6:39 p.m.
REUTERS
Mourners carry the coffin of their relative, who was killed in Thursday's bomb attack in Baghdad, during a funeral in Najaf, 160 km (99 miles) south of Baghdad, February 28, 2014. At least 52 people were killed Thursday as a motorcycle rigged with explosives detonated in Baghdad's Sadr City and militants targeted mostly Shi'ite neighbourhoods around the country. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS)

BAGHDAD — The United Nations said Saturday that violence across Iraq in February killed 703 people, a death toll higher than the year before as the country faces a rising wave of militant attacks rivaling the sectarian bloodshed that followed the U.S.-led invasion.

The figures issued by the U.N. mission to Iraq are close to January's death toll of 733, showing that a surge of violence that began 10 months ago with a government crackdown on a Sunni protest camp is not receding. Meanwhile, attacks on Saturday killed at least five people and wounded 14, authorities said.

Attacks in February killed 564 civilians and 139 security force members, the United Nations said. The violence wounded 1,381, the vast majority of them civilians, it said. That compares with February 2013, when attacks killed 418 civilians and wounded 704.

The capital, Baghdad, was the worst affected with 239 people killed, according to the United Nations. Two predominantly Sunni provinces — central Salaheddin with 121 killed and northern Ninevah with 94 killed — followed.

U.N. mission chief Nickolay Mladenov appealed to Iraqis to stop the violence.

“The political, social and religious leaders of Iraq have an urgent responsibility to come together in the face of the terrorist threat that the country is facing,” Mladenov said in a statement. “Only by working together can Iraqis address the causes of violence and build a democratic society in which rule of law is observed and human rights are protected.”

February's numbers could be even worse than the United Nations reported, however, as it again excluded deaths from ongoing fighting in Anbar province, because of problems in verifying the “status of those killed.” It did the same in January.

Al-Qaida-linked fighters and their allies seized the city of Fallujah and parts of the Anbar provincial capital Ramadi in late December once authorities dismantled a protest camp. Like the camp in the northern Iraqi town of Hawija whose dismantlement in April sparked violent clashes and set off the current upsurge in killing, the Anbar camp was set up by Sunnis angry at what they consider second-class treatment by the Shiite-led government.

The government and its tribal allies are besieging the rebel-held areas, with fighting reported daily.

Widespread chaos nearly tore the country apart after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. The violence ebbed in 2008 after a series of U.S.-Iraqi military offensives, a Shiite militia cease-fire and a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq.

But last year, the country had the highest death toll since the worst of the country's sectarian bloodletting, according to the United Nations, with 8,868 people killed.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.