At least 87,000 Iraqis lost their lives from 2004-2008 in violence, the government said in its first comprehensive official tally released since the war began.
The report by the Human Rights Ministry said 85,694 people were killed from the beginning of 2004 to Oct. 31, 2008 and 147,195 were wounded. It counted Iraqi civilians, military and police but did not cover U.S. military deaths, insurgents, or foreigners, including contractors or U.S. forces. And it did not include the first months of the war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The Associated Press reported in April that the government had recorded 87,215 Iraqi deaths from 2005 to February 2009, a toll very similar to the latest release. It was based on government statistics obtained by the AP and covered violence ranging from catastrophic bombings to execution-style slayings.
Until the AP report, the government’s toll of Iraqi deaths had been one of the most closely guarded secrets of the war. It has been hotly disputed because of the high political stakes in a war opposed by many countries and by a large portion of the American public. Critics on each side accuse the other of manipulating the toll to sway public opinion.
The ministry’s report came out late Tuesday as part of a larger study on human rights in the country. It described the years that followed the invasion, which toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime, as extremely violent.
“Through the terrorist attacks like explosions, assassinations, kidnappings and forced displacements, the outlawed groups have created these terrible figures which represent a big challenge for the rule of law and for the Iraqi people,” it said.
Violence has declined dramatically since the worst years, but almost every person in Iraq has been touched by the violence. Insurgents continue to target civilians, especially Shiites and their shrines.
Iraq’s death toll continued to climb on Wednesday when three near simultaneous blasts struck the southern Shiite holy city of Karbala. At least six people were killed, Iraqi police and medical officials said.