Page last updated at 17:24 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 18:24 UK

Iraq says 85,000 violently killed

A wounded Iraqi soldier in hospital in Kirkuk
About 148,000 people were injured during the four years

Just over 85,000 Iraqis were killed in Iraq between 2004 and 2008, according to the first estimate from the Iraqi government since the war began.

The figure is based on death certificates issued by the ministry of health and included 15,000 unidentified bodies.

It counts violent deaths of military, police and civilians, but does not include foreigners or insurgents.

Previous attempts to calculate the number of dead have been controversial.

Past reports have used a number of different methods to produce estimates ranging from more than 100,000 to well over half a million deaths since 2003.

The Ministry of Human Rights included the figure in a larger report into human rights in the country.

'Terrible figures'

It does not include the first months of the war after the 2003 US-led invasion, as there was no functioning Iraqi government at that time to keep track.

"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," it said.

Among the deaths were 1,279 children, 2,334 women, 263 university professors, 21 judges, 95 lawyers and 269 journalists.

The data covers only violent deaths, such as people killed in shootings, bombings, mortar attacks and beheadings.

It does not include indirect factors such as damage to infrastructure, health care and stress that contributed to more deaths.

About 148,000 people were injured during the same period.

The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Baghdad says the numbers may be staggering but they are relatively conservative.

Advocates for and against the invasion have accused each other of manipulating the figures to suit their own political ends, our correspondent adds.

The reality is that, amid the chaos and violence that followed the invasion, the true number may never be known.

The most recent numbers from Iraq Body Count, a non-governmental organisation that has tracked civilian casualties since the war began, puts the number of fatalities at 93,540.

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