http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/reuters/070116/world/international_iraq1_dcU.N. says 34,000 Iraqis killed in 2006
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Tuesday more than 34,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in violence last year and it chided the government for allowing the killers, some of them inside the security forces, to go unpunished.
Several bombs that killed 35 people in Baghdad were a reminder of the violence that killed 94 every day last year, by the U.N. count. It was not clear if the bombings, among the bloodiest this month, were related to the hangings on Monday of two aides to Saddam Hussein, which angered minority Sunni Arabs.
The government is preparing a security plan backed by U.S. reinforcements and billed as a "last chance" for Iraq to pull back from a sectarian civil war pitching Sunni rebels against Shi'ite militias and dragging in millions of armed civilians.
"Without significant progress on the rule of law, sectarian violence will continue indefinitely and eventually spiral out of control," the U.N. human rights chief in Baghdad, Gianni Magazzeni, told a news conference presenting his latest report.
Sectarian tensions have been inflamed by the botched execution of Saddam's aides. The ousted president's half-brother Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti was decapitated by the noose. Mourners visited the two fresh graves in the home village where Saddam himself was buried after he was hanged two weeks ago.
Magazzeni said 34,452 civilians were killed and more than 36,000 wounded in 2006. He accused the government of failing to provide security and blamed some of the violence on militias colluding with or working inside the police and army.
"The root causes of the sectarian violence lie in revenge killings and lack of accountability for past crimes as well as in the growing sense of impunity for on-going human rights violations," the U.N.'s latest report on Iraq said.
The casualty figures are much higher than statistics issued by Iraqi government officials. The government itself branded the United Nations' last two-monthly report in November grossly exaggerated and banned its civil servants from releasing data.
"The focus of this report is actually on the need for the government to increase its action with respect to the rule of law," Magazzeni said. "Law enforcement agencies do not provide effective protection to the population of Iraq."