Monday, June 05, 2006

Baghdad Morgue Reports Record Figures for May - Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times reports
Baghdad Morgue Reports Record Figures for May
Nearly 1,400 bodies were brought to the facility, the highest number since the war began.

By Louise Roug, Times Staff Writer
June 4, 2006

BAGHDAD — New Iraqi government documents show that, excluding the nearly daily bombings, more Baghdad residents died in shootings, stabbings and other violence in May than in any other month since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

The numbers, and accounts from residents, depict neighborhoods descending further into violence and fear.
Last month, 1,398 bodies were brought to the central morgue, according to Ministry of Health statistics, 307 more than in April. The count doesn't include soldiers or civilian victims of explosions, on whom autopsies are not usually conducted.

Since 2003, at least 30,240 bodies have been brought to the morgue, the vast majority of them victims of gunmen who are not caught. Bodies often lie in the streets for hours.

In response, many Iraqis are closing their shops, drawing their blinds and staying home, turning once-vibrant neighborhoods into ghost towns.

One month ago the Times reported:
Targeted Killings Surge in Baghdad
Nearly 4,000 civilian deaths, many of them Sunni Arabs slain execution-style, were recorded in the first three months of the year.

By Louise Roug, Times Staff Writer
May 7, 2006

BAGHDAD — More Iraqi civilians were killed in Baghdad during the first three months of this year than at any time since the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime — at least 3,800, many of them found hogtied and shot execution-style.

Others were strangled, electrocuted, stabbed, garroted or hanged. Some died in bombings. Many bore signs of torture such as bruises, drill holes, burn marks, gouged eyes or severed limbs.

Every day, about 40 bodies arrive at the central Baghdad morgue, an official said. The numbers demonstrate a shift in the nature of the violence, which increasingly has targeted both sides of the country's SunniShiite sectarian divide.

In the previous three years, the killings were more random, impersonal. Violence came mostly in the form of bombs wielded by the Sunni Arab-led insurgency that primarily targeted the coalition forces and the Shiite majority: balls of fire and shrapnel tearing through the bodies of those riding the wrong bus, shopping at the wrong market or standing in the wrong line.

Now the killings are systematic, personal. Masked gunmen storm into homes, and the victims — the majority of them Sunnis — are never again seen alive.


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