Iraq says death toll for March lowest since 2003 invasion
AFP | Apr 2, 2012, 01.31AM IST
BAGHDAD: The number of Iraqis killed in violence in March, when Baghdad hosted a landmark Arab summit, was the lowest monthly figure since the 2003 US-led invasion, official figures showed on Sunday.
In total, 112 Iraqis -- 78 civilians, 22 policemen and 12 soldiers -- died in attacks nationwide, according to figures compiled by the ministries of health, interior and defence.
The previous low for a month was in November 2009, when 122 people died.
March's death toll is markedly lower than the figure for February, when 150 Iraqis were killed, and is less than half the toll for the same month a year ago, when 247 people died.
A total of 357 people were wounded in violence last month, including 220 civilians, 85 policemen and 52 soldiers. The figures also showed that 30 insurgents were killed and 152 arrested.
Iraq's deadliest violence last month included a wave of attacks on March 20 that rocked 18 cities and towns nationwide, killing 50 people, and wounding 255 others.
Crucially, the Iraqi capital played host to a landmark Arab summit, the first to be held in Baghdad since now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The summit passed largely without violence, though a mortar landed near the Iranian embassy as the meeting of Arab leaders opened on Thursday, and a suicide attack in west Baghdad killed a policeman on Tuesday, when regional economy and finance ministers were meeting.
US forces, who led the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein, completed their withdrawal from Iraq at the end of last year. Now, just 157 soldiers remain under the US embassy, charged with limited training of Iraqi forces, along with a marine detachment responsible for securing the mission.