A record number of Iraqi civilians were killed last year, figures released by Iraq's interior ministry revealed today.
The data said 12,320 Iraqi civilians had died in what officials described as "terrorist violence", Reuters reported.
Almost 2,000 of those were killed in December - more than three times the number of deaths in January - and the figures also showed that 1,231 policeman and 602 Iraqi soldiers died in 2006. Sectarian violence between Iraq's Sunni and Shia muslims increased dramatically after the bombing of the golden domed al-Askari shrine, in Samarra, by Sunni extremists last February.
The new year has already seen a number of violent killings. Yesterday, Iraqi police reported finding 40 handcuffed, blindfolded and bullet-riddled bodies in Baghdad.
It was reported that 15 of the bodies were found in the mainly industrial Sheik Omar district in the north of the city.
The number of deaths is likely to be seen as an underestimate when compared with figures calculated by outside organisations.
The above, noted by Gareth, is from the Guardian of London's "New high in Iraqi civilian deaths." Staying on the violence, Lloyd notes Nancy Trejos' "6 Killed in U.S. Raid Targeting Insurgents: Sunni Legislator Says Operation Destroyed Political Coalition Offices" (Washington Post):
U.S. forces killed six people during a raid on a suspected safe house of the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq in the capital Monday morning, the military said.
A prominent Sunni member of parliament condemned the operation, saying that two of his buildings were destroyed and two of his bodyguards were killed in the attack. He said his bodyguards were not insurgents and questioned the point of the raid.
And Billie notes Cindy Sheehan's "It's Deja Vu all Over Again: 3000" (BuzzFlash):
As I was laying on a freezing cold floor dressed in black and white prison stripes in Waco, Tx the other night feeling sorry for myself for a minute, I thought of our brave young people in Iraq whom corporate greed has sentenced to a prison of a war that is turning more nightmarish by the minute, and I didn't feel so bad. I thought of the innocent Iraqis who cannot escape from the prison of an occupation that is killing them by the hundreds of thousands every year and I felt downright fortunate. Then I recalled that Bloody George and his "Holes in the Head" gang were just contemplating sending upwards of 40,000 more troops to Iraq (and in fact, that was why I was in jail that night), and I got downright terrified.
As Bloody BushCo are contemplating escalating the mayhem, I know that many groups and communities are already planning candlelight vigils, which should be held to honor our wonderful and brave young people who have been killed for no reason. However, candlelight vigils will not stop 3001 or 3002 -- and saints forbid that we will be mourning number 4000 sometime too soon in the too near future.
Gold Star Families for Peace as a group and individually deeply mourn each and every loss no matter what color the skin or what religion was claimed by the deceased. GSFP strongly abhors and disagrees with any troop "surge" and call for a new commitment to radical-non-violent, activism through a "peace surge."
Do your candlelight vigils. Sing "Give Peace a Chance," and/or "We Shall Overcome." Before the last note has died down, head over to your Congress Rep's office and do a sit-in and urge your representative to vote "No" on any future funding for killing and "Yes" to accountability for Bloody BushCo. Tell him/her that you are not leaving until he/she agrees to do what you tell them to. Your elected official works for you -- not the other way around.
Hang signs off of freeway overpasses. Support the Military Redress petition which active duty soldiers are organizing. Send money to peace groups and/or progressive media. Come to Washington, DC and march with us on January 27th. Come to Camp Casey at Easter to demonstrate on the president's door step. Reduce your dependency on oil and oil-based products. Simplify your life. "Live simply so others may simply live."
"Where is al-Qaeda, and where is the insurgency here?" Saleh al-Mutlak, head of the Sunni-led Iraqi National Dialogue Front, said in a telephone interview.
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