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The total number of Iraqi civilians and security force personnel killed in violence in 2010 was higher than the previous
Total of 3,605 Iraqi civilians, police and army personnel killed in war-torn country last year.
By W.G. Dunlop – BAGHDAD
year, according to official statistics released on Saturday.
Figures compiled by the defence, interior and health ministries indicated that 151 people -- 89 civilians, 41 police and 21 soldiers -- were killed in December 2010.
According to an AFP tally based on figures from the three ministries released over the course of 2010, a total of 3,605 Iraqi civilians, police and army personnel were killed last year -- 124 more than the 3,481 who were killed in 2009.
Violence for both years is still far lower than in the past -- for instance, 6,798 people were killed in 2008 and 17,956 in 2007, according to AFP tallies based on government figures from those years.
While the total number of people killed in violence went up from 2009 to 2010, the number of civilians killed dropped, the figures showed.
According to the AFP tally, a total of 2,505 civilians were killed in 2010 -- down 295 on the 2,800 the year before.
The rise in the 2010 death toll was due to an increased number of security force personnel killed -- 215 more policemen and 204 more soldiers than the previous year.
Iraqi security forces have been increasingly on their own as the US has decreased the number of troops it has deployed in the country and shifted its focus from combat to training and advising Iraqi troops.
Some 50,000 US troops remain in the country, but a security accord between Baghdad and Washington requires that they be withdrawn by the end of 2011.
The official statistics released on Saturday also show that 271 people were wounded in December -- 114 civilians, 77 police and 80 soldiers.
That brings the total number of wounded for 2010 to 7,713 -- significantly lower than the previous year's total of 10,562.
The total death toll for December was the lowest since November 2009, and the fifth month in a row with a lower death toll than the one before.
The government figures also indicate that 34 insurgents were killed in December 2010, bringing the total to 710 for the year.
A preliminary report released on December 30 by Iraq Body Count (IBC), an independent Britain-based group, gave a significantly higher number of civilian deaths, but also said the number of civilians killed in 2010 had declined from the previous year.
The IBC report said that 3,976 civilians were killed in Iraq violence through December 25, 2010 -- down 704 from a total of 4,680 the year before, meaning that the number of civilian deaths for 2010 was set to be the lowest since the US-led invasion of 2003.
However, attacks remain commonplace. "2010 averaged nearly two explosions a day by non-state forces that caused civilian deaths (675 explosions killing 2,605)," the report said.
It also noted that attacks occur across the country -- in 13 of 18 of Iraq's provinces in 2010.
And last year saw one of the deadliest attacks on Christians, with 44 worshippers and two priests killed in an October 31 massacre at a Baghdad cathedral.
On Thursday, at least two Christians were killed and 16 others wounded in a wave of bomb attacks on Christian targets in Baghdad, an interior ministry official said.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was approved by parliament for a second term of office along with a national unity cabinet on December 21 after more than nine months of political deadlock, has cited security as one of his top three priorities.