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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Who's killing who in Iraq?

Nancy Youssef of Knight Ridder has the distressing answer:
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Operations by U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis - most of them civilians - as attacks by insurgents, according to statistics compiled by the Iraqi Health Ministry and obtained exclusively by Knight Ridder.

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. Another 13,720 Iraqis were injured, the ministry said.

While most of the dead are believed to be civilians, the data include an unknown number of police and Iraqi national guardsmen. Many Iraqi deaths, especially of insurgents, are never reported, so the actual number of Iraqis killed in fighting could be significantly higher.

During the same period, 432 American soldiers were killed.

Iraqi officials said the statistics proved that U.S. airstrikes intended for insurgents also were killing large numbers of innocent civilians. Some say these casualties are undermining popular acceptance of the American-backed interim government.
"The Americans do not care about the Iraqis. They don't care if they get killed, because they don't care about the citizens," said Abu Mohammed, 50, who was a major general in Saddam Hussein's army in Baghdad. "The Americans keep criticizing Saddam for the mass graves. How many graves are the Americans making in Iraq?"

At his fruit stand in southern Baghdad, Raid Ibraham, 24, theorized: "The Americans keep attacking the cities not to keep the security situation stable, but so they can stay in Iraq and control the oil."