Iraq rebuts U.N. study of deaths

It's called superficial, but total not rejected

January 19, 2007|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq's government yesterday strongly criticized a United Nations report on human rights that put the country's civilian death toll for last year at 34,452, saying it is "superficial" and discussed subjects that are taboo in Iraqi society such as homosexuality.

The response came on a day when bombs and bullets killed at least 60 people in Baghdad and beyond.

The government did not reject the casualty figure but said the U.N. Assistance Mission report was "not professional or neutral as we would expect from the missions of the international organization. The report was superficial in dealing with several points," spokesman Ali Dabbagh said.

A compilation of Iraqi government figures from three agencies put the number of civilians killed last year at an estimated 12,357.

But a Health Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the information, said that 16,000 bodies of victims of violence had been brought to the Baghdad morgue alone last year, and that it appeared that the U.N. figure was "about correct."

When asked what the government didn't accept about the report, Dabbagh said, "I am not talking about figures. I am talking about details in the report."

The U.N. report, released Tuesday in Baghdad, also was critical about the government's performance on human rights violations, raising concerns about homosexuals and other vulnerable groups.

Attacks yesterday included a half-dozen car bombs in the capital, beginning about 8 a.m. The first blast killed four police officers and injured 10 other people in downtown Baghdad. Later in the day, three successive car bombs exploded at a green grocer's market in the southern neighborhood of Dora, killing at least 12 people and injuring 32 others.

A fifth car bomb killed one and injured 10 in eastern Baghdad. The sixth car bomb killed two and injured four.

Various mortar attacks in the city killed five people and wounded 13. Also, authorities recovered the bodies of at least 26 people found dumped in various neighborhoods.

South of the capital, two bodies were fished out from the Tigris River near the city of Kut, while a feud between two families in that area left four dead.

In Babil province, a roadside bomb killed a butcher in his shop, and armed men attacked a police checkpoint, gunning down three policemen in a separate attack.

In Basra, British forces came under multiple attacks, involving shootings, roadside bombs and more than a dozen rockets fired at the palace housing British forces, according to a spokeswoman for the British troops. A British soldier and eight Iraqis were injured, including three female students, the spokeswoman said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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