BAGHDAD – Iraq’s government has recorded 87,215 of its citizens killed since 2005 in violence ranging from catastrophic bombings to execution-style slayings, according to government statistics obtained by The Associated Press that break open one of the most closely guarded secrets of the war.
Combined with tallies based on hospital sources and media reports since the beginning of the war and an in-depth review of available evidence by The Associated Press, the figures show that more than 110,600 Iraqis have died in violence since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The number is a minimum count of violent deaths. The official who provided the data to the AP, on condition of anonymity because of its sensitivity, estimated the actual number of deaths at 10 percent to 20 percent higher because of thousands who are still missing and civilians who were buried in the chaos of war without official records.
The Health Ministry has tallied death certificates since 2005, and late that year the United Nations began using them – along with hospital and morgue figures – to publicly release casualty counts. But by early 2007, when sectarian violence was putting political pressure on the U.S. and Iraqi governments, the Iraqi numbers disappeared. The United Nations “repeatedly asked for that cooperation” to resume but never received a response, U.N. associate spokesman Farhan Haq said Thursday.
The data obtained by the AP measure only violent deaths – people killed in attacks such as the shootings, bombings, mortar attacks and beheadings that have ravaged Iraq. It excluded indirect factors such as damage to infrastructure, health care and stress that caused thousands more to die.
Security has improved since the worst years, but almost every person in Iraq has been touched by the violence.
“We have lost everything,” said Badriya Abbas Jabbar, 54. A 2007 truck bombing targeting a market near her Baghdad home killed three granddaughters, a son and a niece.