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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 January, 2005, 22:28 GMT
Iraq Health Ministry Figures

On Thursday, January 27 2005, the Iraqi ministry of health released to the BBC's Panorama programme statistics stating that for the six-month period from 1 July 2004 to 1 January 2005:

  • 3,274 people in Iraq were killed and 12, 657 injured in conflict-related violence
  • 2,041 of these deaths were the result of military action, in which 8,542 people were injured
  • 1,233 deaths were the result of "terrorist" incidents

These figures were based on records from Iraqi public hospitals.

The BBC initially reported these figures as meaning that the deaths and injuries resulting from military operations were the result of actions by the multinational force and Iraqi security forces.

On Saturday, the Iraqi ministry of health issued a statement clarifying matters that were the subject of several conversations with the BBC before the report was published, and denying that the conclusion could be drawn from the figures relating to military operations.

It stated that those recorded as killed in military action included Iraqis killed by terrorists, not only those killed by coalition forces or Iraqi security forces; and that those recorded as killed in military action included terrorists themselves, and Iraqi security forces.

The BBC regrets mistakes in its initial published and broadcast reports.

Previous figures from the Iraqi ministry of health were cited in Parliament by UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on 17 November 2004 in a written ministerial statement.

He said: "In many cases it would be impossible to make a reliably accurate assessment either of the civilian casualties resulting from any particular attacks or of the overall civilian casualties of a conflict. This is particularly true in the conditions that exist in Iraq.

"However, since 5 April 2004 the Iraqi ministry of health has sought to collect casualty data.

"Explaining the procedure, the Iraqi minister of health stated on 29 October: 'Every hospital reports daily the number of civilians (which may include insurgents) who have been killed or injured in terrorist incidents or as a result of military action. All casualties are likely to be taken to hospital in these circumstances except for some insurgents (who may fear arrest) and those with minor injuries. The figures show that between 5 April 2004 and 5 October 2004, 3,853 civilians were killed and 15,517 were injured. I am satisfied that this information is the most reliable available'."

Mr Straw continued: "We share this view. The ministry's figures do not of course cover the whole of the period since military action was taken, but they do include the months of April and August, when casualty figures were particularly high." (Source: Hansard)

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