World

Iraq puts 2004-08 death toll at over 85,000

Iraq says 85,694 people lost their lives in the country's violence from 2004-08, the first official report by the government on the death toll since the United States invasion in 2003.

Iraq says 85,694 people lost their lives in the country's violence from 2004-08, the first official report by the government on the death toll since the United States invasion in 2003.

The report, released late Tuesday by the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry and based on death certificates issued by the Health Ministry, is likely to be controversial, in part because it omits 2003 from its calculations, the year U.S. forces invaded the country.

Statistics for 2003 have been extremely difficult to obtain, however, as there was no functioning Iraqi government during that time. The interim Iraqi government was not seated until mid-2004.

The report described the years following the invasion as extremely violent.

"Through the terrorist attacks like explosions, assassinations, kidnappings and forced displacements, the outlawed groups have created these terrible figures which represent a big challenge for the rule of law and for the Iraqi people," the report said.

Earlier assessments put death toll higher

An earlier assessment from the Iraqi Body Count, an organization that bases tallies mainly on media report estimates, said that 102,071 civilians have died in the violence so far since 2003. That figure includes deaths from the 2003 invasion.

Academic surveys have also extrapolated much higher figures. A 2008 survey by the World Health Organization estimated the violence-related death toll in Iraq for the period 2003-06 at between 104,000 to 223,000. That number was based on a WHO survey of 9,345 households.

An earlier and controversial study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the School of Medicine at al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad put the figure at between 426,400 to 793,700. That study was based on data from 1,850 households.

The official Human Rights Ministry report said the death toll includes 15,000 unidentified bodies that have not been claimed by their families and were buried in special cemeteries.

The report also breaks down some specific numbers, saying 1,279 children and 2,334 women were killed.

It also reported the death toll of some professions specifically targeted by insurgents. According to the report, 269 journalists, 263 university professors, 95 lawyers and 21 judges were killed during the violence.

It also said 147,195 people have been wounded from 2004-08.

With files from The Associated Press