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July deadliest month in two years, Iraqi government says

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July was the deadliest month in Iraq in over two years, with violence killing a total of 535 people - both civilians and security forces - throughout the country, according to government data released on Saturday.


AFP - July was the deadliest month in Iraq since May 2008 with a total of 535 people killed across the country as a result of violence, according to government figures released on Saturday.

The figures show a sharp upswing in the level of violence nearly five months after parliamentary elections which have yet to result in the formation of a new government and as the United States continues a major withdrawal of its forces.

A total of 396 civilians, 89 policemen and 50 soldiers died in attacks in July, data compiled by the health, defence and interior ministries showed.

The death toll is the highest for a single month since May 2008 when 563 people were killed in violence. July's figure is significantly higher than that for June, when 284 people died, and is nearly double the death toll from the same month a year ago, when 275 people were killed.

Saturday's figures also showed that 1,043 people -- 680 civilians, 198 policemen and 165 soldiers -- were injured in attacks this month, the highest such number this year.

The data also showed that 100 insurgents were killed and 955 were arrested.

A string of attacks against Shiite pilgrims in a three-day period up to July 8 killed 70 people in Baghdad, as tens of thousands commemorated the death of Musa Kadhim, the seventh of 12 revered imams in Shiite Islam, in 799 AD.

On July 18, a suicide bomber targeting anti-Qaeda militiamen being paid their wages killed 45 people west of Baghdad, and left 46 others wounded, the country's single deadliest attack in more than two months.

Three days later, a car bomb killed 30 people and injured 46 near a mosque in a predominantly Shiite area of the mixed city of Baquba, north of the Iraqi capital.

Twin car bombs killed a further 21 people in the Shiite holy city of Karbala on July 26, while four others died in a suicide attack on the Al-Arabiya television station's offices in Baghdad.

US and Iraqi officials have warned of the dangers of an upsurge in violence if negotiations on forming a new government drag on, giving insurgent groups an opportunity to further destabilise the country.

Nearly five months since the March 7 general election which gave no single bloc an overall parliamentary majority, the two lists which won the most seats are still bickering over who should be the next prime minister.

Both former premier Iyad Allawi and incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki insist that they are best placed to tackle the war-torn country's insecurity and shaky public services.

Four American soldiers died in July -- only one in a hostile incident -- bringing to 4,413 the total number to have died in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003 that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, according to an AFP tally based on figures from independent website

The latest figures come as the US military carries out a steady drawdown of its forces in Iraq, and a month before it concludes combat operations in the country.

There are approximately 65,000 American soldiers currently stationed in Iraq, but that figure is set to drop to 50,000 by September 1. All US troops must withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011, in line with the terms of a US-Iraq pact.

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