Iraq has fewer violent deaths in February

Filed on March 1, 2011

BAGHDAD - The number of civilians, police and soldiers killed in violence in Iraq dropped in February, official figures showed on Tuesday, the worst death toll resulting from a militant attack on Shi’ite pilgrims.

The Health Ministry said 119 civilians were killed in bombings and other attacks last month compared with 159 in January.

Fifteen police officers and 33 soldiers were killed, compared with 55 and 45 respectively in January, according to interior and defence ministry figures.

In February, 235 civilians, 85 police officers and 66 soldiers were wounded.

Many of the deaths in February were the result of attacks on Shi’ite pilgrims near the city of Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad.

On February 12, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest at a bus depot at the entry to Samarra, killing 48 people and wounding 80. Another suicide bomber blew up a car outside a shelter housing police officers in Samarra on February 21, killing 13 policemen and wounding 25.

At least 10 people were killed in clashes with security forces on Feb. 25 during nationwide protests against poor basic services and corruption.

While overall violence has fallen sharply in Iraq since the peak of sectarian warfare in 2006-7, security forces continue to fight a weakened but still lethal insurgency. Bombings and other attacks occur daily.

War casualties decreased at the end of last year despite predictions that the formal end of US combat operations in August would leald to an increase in attacks. American troops are scheduled to withdraw completely by the end of this year.

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