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Last Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Iraq violence: monitoring the surge

This week saw the lowest number of violent deaths reported in Iraq since the US troop surge began: 283 people were killed, compared with 400 last week.

An extra 30,000 US troops have been deployed in Iraq, mainly in and around the capital Baghdad, since the launch of the security drive, or "surge", in February.

The BBC World Service is monitoring its effects, week by week, looking at casualty figures, the pressure on

hospitals and quality of life for ordinary civilians.

The graphics and analysis are based on figures from the US and Iraqi authorities, Baghdad's hospitals and three families from different neighbourhoods in the capital.


Bar chart showing numbers of dead and wounded since the surge began

On the eve of the long-awaited US progress report on the key benchmarks in Iraq, the weekly civilian casualty figure in the country was its lowest of the 12-week monitoring period to date.

The civilian death toll for the period 30 August to 5 September was 175, with 117 wounded civilians. This means the total number of civilian casualties was below 300 for the first time since the BBC World Service began monitoring the surge.

See a map of US security posts in Baghdad

Military deaths were also at the low end, with 13 American servicemen and eight Iraqi military personnel being killed.

However, 15 Iraqi police officers died and another 22 were wounded, though both figures were at the low end for those categories.

The US congressional watchdog, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), reported this week that only three of the 18 benchmarks set by Congress had been met. The official US administration assessment will be issued next week.


Pie charts showing the number of hours' electricity per day for three families

Fuel shortages remain a major problem for Iraqis, with long power cuts and fuel queues a common feature of civilian life, particularly in Baghdad.

The families helping paint a picture of these hardships in this survey are from different areas of the city - which can mean different pressures according to the religious make-up of the area and the subsequent security risks.

Map showing locations of families

Family 1 is located in Palestine Street, a Shia neighbourhood in the east of the capital.

Family 2 is located in Zayouna, a mixed neighbourhood in south-east Baghdad.

Family 3 lives in Saba Abkar, a northern Sunni neighbourhood.

While electricity supplies remained the same for families 1 and 2 for the third week in a row, family 3, which has had the least reliable supply throughout the monitoring period, had no power from the grid during the week.

During the week the Ministry of Electricity announced it was setting up 150 generators around Baghdad to supplement production from the national grid.

Fuel prices remained stable at 9,000 Iraqi dinars (7) at the pump and 20,000 (15) on the black market. Waits at petrol stations have also stabilised at three-to-four hours.

Gas prices also remain constant - 7,500 dinars for a cylinder at petrol stations and 27,000 on the black market.

Kerosene, too, cost 1,150 dinars for the second successive week, but with autumn setting in, all official fuel prices have jumped since early August.


Graph showing numbers of dead and wounded at two Baghdad hospitals

Security remains a major problem at Baghdad hospitals.

Al-Kindi hospital - one of the two being monitored in the survey - has increased its protection force to 110 guards in an attempt to protect its doctors.

It has also set up a legal office in the wake of repeated attacks on medical staff by patients' relatives or Iraqi forces.

Al-Kindi received 45 patients with wounds from violence this week, plus 12 bodies, including that of a 28-year-old man who had been kidnapped and tortured and an intelligence officer in the commandos, who had been shot outside his home.

At al-Yarmouk, there were 33 violence-related admissions - one of its lowest weekly totals - and 18 bodies, all unidentified.

All Baghdad hospitals have been warned of a possible cholera outbreak following a case in northern Iraq.

Data compiled by BBC producer Mona Mahmoud

before the surge, U.S. forces in central Iraq January 2007
after the surge, U.S. forces in central Iraq June 2007


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