Wednesday, September 29, 2004

U.S. Decptive about Iraqi civilian casualty count. 

Via Editor and Publisher:


Knight Ridder Scoop: Iraqi Civilian Casualties By E&P staff Published: September 25, 2004 1:00 PM EDT
NEW YORK An exclusive report from Knight Ridder's Washington office, which has gained much renown for this sort of thing in the past year, revealed Saturday that U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis, most of them civilians, as attacks by insurgents.The statistics were compiled by the Iraqi Health Ministry and obtained exclusively by Knight Ridder. Iraqi officials said about two-thirds of the Iraqi deaths were caused by the U.S. side and police; the remaining third died from insurgent attacks. Although most of the dead are believed to be civilians, the data include an unknown number of police and Iraqi national guardsmen. Many Iraqi deaths, however, are never reported. Charts show the number of casualties surging in August and September. According to the ministry, the interim Iraqi government recorded 3,487 Iraqi deaths in 15 of the country's 18 provinces from April 5 (when the ministry began compiling the data) until Sept. 19. Of those, 328 were women and children under 12. Another 13,720 Iraqis were injured, the ministry said. "Iraqi officials said the statistics proved that U.S. airstrikes intended for insurgents also were killing large numbers of innocent civilians," wrote KR's Nancy A. Youssef. "Some say these casualties are undermining popular acceptance of the American-backed interim government. "That suggests that more aggressive U.S. military operations, which the Bush administration has said are being planned to clear the way for nationwide elections scheduled for January, could backfire and strengthen the insurgency."American military officials told Knight Ridder that"damage will happen" in their effort to wrest control of some areas from insurgents. They blamed the insurgents for embedding themselves in communities, saying that's endangering innocent people. According to the statistics, 59 children were killed in Anbar province (which includes the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah) compared with 56 children in Baghdad. The ministry defines children as anyone younger than 12. The Health Ministry is the only organization that attempts to track deaths through government agencies. The U.S. military said it kept estimates, but it refused to release them. Iraqi health and hospital officials agreed that the statistics capture only part of the death toll. Other independent organizations have estimated that 7,000 to 12,000 Iraqis have been killed since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared an end to major combat operations.