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Nearly 6,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in May and June, while the total number of Iraqi civilians killed since the 2003 invasion has reached 50,000, according to a United Nations human rights report issued late Tuesday.

According to the report, between May 1 and June 30, a total of 5,818 civilians were reported killed and at least 5,762 wounded in all manner of violent incidents. The report characterized the figures as part of an “upward trend” in deaths.

The report compiled figures from the Iraqi Ministry of Health and the Baghdad Morgue, and provides a much higher figure than that previously estimated by aid groups and governments. In December, President Bush provided the only official estimate by the U.S. government, saying that 30,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed since the U.S. invasion.

“Insurgent, militia and terrorist attacks continued unabated in the many parts of Iraq, especially in Baghdad and in the central and western regions, with an increasing sectarian connotation,” the report reads.

The report includes the time period after the new Iraqi national unity government was announced on May 22. Both Iraqi and American officials had hoped the completion of the government would reduce the number of violent episodes. Instead, the report found, the number of deaths has increased.

In fact, the U.N. report found, violent deaths were up 60 percent compared to January 2006. For the first six months of the year, 14,338 Iraqi civilians have been killed.

“The Ministry [of Health] further indicated that the number of deaths is probably underreported,” the report reads.

“Civilian casualties resulted mainly from bombings and drive-by shootings, from indiscriminate attacks, in neighborhood markets or petrol stations, or following armed clashes with the police and the security forces. Civilians were also targeted or became unintended victims of insurgent or military actions.”

The security picture is further complicated, officials said, by the on-again, off-again partnerships of convenience between criminal groups, militias, sectarian death squads and religious extremists.

In an interview with The New York Times, a U.N. official in Iraq said the report was facilitated in part by Iraqi government officials being more open to provide casualty figures.

“There is a greater willingness of the new government to be more forthcoming,” Gianni Magazzeni, who heads the human rights office of the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, told the Times. “The more information we have, the more information we can provide — including the number of people who have been violently killed — the more the government and others will be able to take action and address some of these issues.”


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