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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 January 2007, 12:10 GMT
Iraq civilian toll continues rise
Bombing in Baghdad 31-12-06
Sectarian attacks are part of daily life in Baghdad
The number of civilians killed in Iraq every month continues to rise, new Iraqi government figures suggest.

The interior ministry says 1,930 Iraqis died last month, three-and-a-half times the number killed in January 2006.

Other sources have issued significantly higher figures for civilian deaths in September and October 2006.

The figures were announced as the BBC learned President George W Bush will reveal a fresh US strategy for Iraq within days.

He is expected to send more troops to the country in the hope of quelling the mounting violence.

The Iraqi interior ministry statistics suggest more than 12,000 civilians were killed in violence during 2006. Half of them died in the last four months of the year.

Civilian deaths reach new high of 12,320, Iraqi government says, but actual numbers may be higher
More than 800 US troops killed
Violence at record levels, with 140 reported attacks daily
Thousands of Iraqis leaving the country each week

Such figures have been disputed, and do not include those injured in attacks who died later from their wounds.

An unofficial UN estimate in October put the number of civilian deaths that month at 3,700. This was disputed by Baghdad officials.

The Iraqi health ministry has also reported a civilian death toll in Baghdad alone of more than 2,600 for September 2006.

For all the difficulties of compiling accurate numbers, correspondents say the upward trend is clear and supported by evidence from the ground.

Every morning police collect dozens of bodies from the streets of Baghdad.

Most of those killed are victims of sectarian violence between the minority Sunni and majority Shia Muslims.


In his speech expected next week, President Bush will announce a short-term increase in US soldiers in Iraq.

Their exact mission is still under discussion, but it is likely to focus on providing security rather than training Iraqi forces, the BBC's Justin Webb reports.

US soldier in Iraq
President Bush wants to send more troops to Iraq in the short term

Last month a report commissioned by the White House said US strategy in Iraq had so far failed.

The bi-partisan panel - the "Iraq Study Group" - issued a number of recommendations, including a reduction in US combat troops over the next 18 months.

There are about 140,000 troops currently posted in Iraq, with a reserve force kept in neighbouring Kuwait for speedy deployment.

Last week US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said another 3,300 soldiers would be sent to Kuwait in early January.

Just before the New Year, the total number of US troops killed in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion passed 3,000.

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