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British government dismisses research on Iraqi death toll

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Thursday October 12, 2006

London- The British government Thursday dismissed as "nowhere near accurate" claims by US and Iraqi researchers that an estimated 655,000 Iraqis have died since the US-led invasion in 2003. The research compiled by experts from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and Iraqi doctors, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, was based on interviews with more than 1,800 households in Iraq.

The report suggested that, in total, some 2.5 per cent of the Iraqi population could have perished as a result of the war, mostly through violence.

The figure, many times higher than previous death toll estimates - has already been dismissed as "not credible" by US President George W Bush.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Thursday it was not a figure the government believed to be "anywhere near accurate."

"The problem with this is that they are using an extrapolation technique from a relatively small sample, from an area of Iraq which isn't representative of the country as a whole," the spokesman said.

"We have questioned that technique right from the beginning and we continue to do so," he added.

"The Lancet figure is an order of magnitude higher than any other figure; it is not one we believe to be anywhere near accurate."

The British government believed that the only figure that should be accepted was the one provided by the Iraqi health ministry.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency