Da Gulf News del 10/11/2006
Originale su http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/06/11/10/10081558.html

Civilian Iraqi deaths at 150,000, says health minister

Baghdad: A new death count emerged as Iraq's health minister estimated 150,000 civilians have been killed in the war - about three times previously accepted estimates.

Previous estimates of Iraq deaths held that 45,000-50,000 have been killed in the nearly 44-month-old conflict, according to partial figures from Iraqi institutions and media reports. No official count has ever been available.

Health Minister Ali Al Shemari gave his new estimate of 150,000 to reporters during a visit to Vienna, Austria. He later told reporters that he based the figure on an estimate of 100 bodies per day brought to morgues and hospitals - though such a calculation would come out closer to 130,000 in total.

"It is an estimate," Al Shemari said. He blamed Sunni insurgents, Wahhabis - Sunni religious extremists - and criminal gangs for the deaths.

Hassan Salem, of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), said the 150,000 figure included civilians, police and the bodies of people who were abducted, later found dead and collected at morgues run by the Health Ministry.

The British medical journal The Lancet published in October a controversial study contending nearly 655,000 Iraqis have died because of the war - a far higher death toll than other estimates. The study, which was dismissed by the United States as not credible, was based on interviews of households and not a body count.

Al Shemari disputed that figure on Thursday. "Since three and-a-half years, since the change of the Saddam regime, some people say we have 600,000 are killed. This is an exaggerated number", he said.

Accurate figures on the number of people who have died in the Iraq conflict have long been the subject of debate. Police and hospitals often give widely conflicting figures of those killed in major bombings. In addition, death figures are reported through multiple channels by government agencies that function with varying efficiency.

As Al Shemari issued the startling new estimate, the head of the Baghdad central morgue said on Thursday he was receiving as many as 60 violent death victims each day at his facility alone. Dr. Abdul Razzaq Al Obaidi said those deaths did not include victims of violence whose bodies were taken to the city's many hospital morgues or those who were removed from attack scenes by relatives and quickly buried according to Muslim custom.

Al Obaidi said the morgue had received 1,600 violent death victims in October, one of the bloodiest months of the conflict.

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