As many as 3,709 Iraqi civilians were violently killed in October, exceeding the previous monthly high set in July, the United Nations said Wednesday.

Officials blamed the high number on increasing sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias, the growing influence of armed militias and torture.

"Hundreds of bodies continued to appear in different areas of Baghdad handcuffed, blindfolded and bearing signs of torture and execution-style killing,"UN officials quoted the report as saying. "Many witnesses reported that perpetrators wear militia attire and even police or army uniforms."

The toll was given in the agency's latest human rights report, which covers the months of September and October, which had a combined death toll of 7,054. Close to 5,000 of those deaths occurred in Baghdad, and most were the result of gunshot wounds, said the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq.

"The civilian population of Iraq continues to be victims of terrorist acts, roadside bombs, drive-by shootings, crossfire between rival gangs, or between police and insurgents, kidnappings, military operations, crime and police abuse," the officials quoted the report as saying.

October's monthly tally is up from the previous high of 3,590 in July.

The report offers a "grim picture virtually across the board, from attacks on journalists, judges and lawyers and the worsening situation of women to displacement, violence against religious minorities and the targeting of schools."

The figures are taken from the Iraqi Health Ministry, hospitals throughout the country and the Medico-Legal Institute, Baghdad's morgue.

With files from the Associated Press