BAGHDAD, Jan 2 (Reuters) - The number of civilians
killed in violence in Iraq rose slightly in 2011 from the
previous year, as daily bombings and attacks continued to claim
victims almost nine years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein,
a study showed on Monday.
A total of 4,059 civilians were killed in violent incidents
in Iraq in 2011, compared to 3,976 in 2010, rights group Iraq
Body Count said in its annual study.
That took the number of civilian deaths recorded since the
2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam and unleashed a
sectarian conflict to more than 114,000.
"The number of civilian deaths in Iraq in 2011 was almost at
the same level as in 2010 - there has now been no noticeable
downward trend since mid-2009," IBC said in a statement.
"Time will tell whether the withdrawal of U.S. forces will
have an effect on casualty levels."
The last U.S. troops left Iraq on Dec. 18, leaving the
country ruled by a fragile unity government, made up of parties
allied to different sectarian groups.
Hours after the exit, Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim Prime Minister
Nuri al-Maliki sparked the worst political crisis in a year by
announcing an arrest warrant for the Sunni vice president on
charges he led death squads.
Overall violence has decreased since the invasion - although
the figures from Iraq Body Count show a halt in that decline
An al Qaeda-linked Sunni insurgency and Shi'ite militia are
still capable of carrying out lethal, large-scale attacks.
At least 53 people were killed in March 2011 when gunmen
laid siege to a provincial council headquarters in Saddam's
hometown of Tikrit. A wave of attacks across cities in Iraq
killed around 70 people in August.
The worst attack of 2011 occurred on Dec. 22 when bombings
hit mainly Shi'ite areas in Baghdad, killing at least 72 people
and wounding more than 200 others.
IBC's numbers are higher than those provided by the Iraqi
government, which put the number of civilians killed in violence
in 2011 at 1,578, according to monthly data from the Health
The group's full report can be viewed at
(Reporting by Serena Chaudhry; Editing by Jim Loney and Andrew
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