Saturday, September 03, 2011

Lancet report says 12,000 Iraqi civilians died in suicide attacks since 2003


By Annie Gowen, Saturday, September 3, 4:15 AM 2011
The Washington Post

BAGHDAD — Along with the good news that August was the first month without American troop deaths in Iraq comes a grim statistic: more than 12,000 Iraqi civilians have died in suicide bomb attacks since the war began, according to a new study.

The study, published in the British medical journal Lancet this week, reports that 12,284 civilians died in 1003 suicide bomb attacks in Iraq from March 2003 to the end of last year. In contrast, 79 suicide attacks on coalition forces resulted in 200 deaths, the study said.

Suicide bombs “kill significantly more Iraqi civilians than coalition forces,” the study’s authors wrote. “Among civilians, children are more likely to die than adults when injured by suicide bombs.”

The report was written by doctors and researchers from the Health Service and Population Research Department of King’s College London.

For the study, researchers relied on data from Iraqbodycount.org, a civilian research project that attempts to chronicle deaths in Iraq through a variety of means — Arab and English-language press reports, hospital records and information from nongovernmental organizations operating in Iraq. In the report, Lancet researchers acknowledged that the database was “extensive but incomplete.”

The Lancet caused a stir in 2006 when it published a report saying more than 600,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed in the conflict. That claim was widely criticized as flawed.

Gilbert Burnham, of the Center for Refugee and Disaster Response at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in an analysis of the new Lancet report’s findings that prevention of suicide attacks is difficult because of their complex origins, but the U.S. military has had an edge.

“The military’s approach of controlling access and attacking suspicious targets has protected coalition forces in Iraq, but the resulting deaths of civilians have alienated many Iraqis ... Attempts to stop bombers are often futile,” Burnham wrote.

On Aug. 15, more than 80 people were killed across Iraq in a series of coordinated suicide bombs, car bombs and assassinations. Al-Qaeda in Iraq later vowed to carry out 100 attacks in the country to avenge the death of Osama bin Laden. Last Sunday evening, more than 28 worshippers were killed in a suicide bomb attack at Umm al-Qura, Baghdad’s largest Sunni mosque.

The U.S. military reported earlier this week that August was the first month since the beginning of the Iraq war when there was no death among U.S. troops in the country. Fourteen troops were killed in July.

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