Baghdad safer under Saddam

Baghdad is a much more dangerous place under US occupation than it was when Saddam Hussein was in charge, according to statistics released Friday by a research group.

    'Terror' and 'mayhem' reign supreme in Baghdad's streets

    Soaring violence on the streets of Iraq's capital since the US-led war on Iraq has killed an extra 1519 civilians.

    The Iraq Body Count (IBC) said its study of violent deaths recorded at the main city morgue confirmed anecdotal evidence of "terror" and "mayhem" on the streets of Baghdad.

    From mid-April to the end of August, 2846 violent deaths were recorded by the Baghdad morgue, the IBC said.

    After subtracting the average pre-war death rates, "a total of at least 1519 excess violent deaths in Baghdad emerges," it added.

    Death rate triples

    "Although the majority of deaths are the result of Iraqi on Iraqi violence, some were directly caused by US military fire," the IBC said in a statement.

    The IBC said the daily violent death rate recorded at Baghdad's main morgue virtually tripled from around 10 per day in mid-April to more than 28 during August.

    Before the war, gunshot wounds accounted for approximately 10% of bodies brought to the morgue, but now make up more than 60%.

    The IBC said responsibility for the violence plaguing Baghdad's five million residents lay with the occupiers.

    "The US may be effective at waging war but the descent of Iraq's capital city into lawlessness under US occupation shows that it is incompetent at maintaining public order and providing security for the civilian population," researcher Hamit Dardagan said.

    Domestic weapons

    US soldiers have been accused
    of using excessive force against
    Iraqis  

    "Ordinary Iraqis may justifiably feel ungrateful for a 'liberation' that has removed the fear of Saddam but left them under military occupation and living in terror of their own streets."

    The majority of Iraqis keep weapons - mainly AK-47 rifles or pistols - and have been readier to use them since Saddam Hussein's government was toppled on 9 April.

    Gunfights are frequent on Baghdad streets and revenge killings are also common as people settle old scores knowing murders will probably go unpunished.

    Residents also live in fear of being caught in firefights between US soldiers and Iraqi resistance fighters.

    Some have been shot accidentally by soldiers and their own police.

    Amnesty criticism

    The IBC report was confirmed by human rights group Amnesty International.

    Amnesty said five months since the end of the major military operations, no one feels safe in Iraq.

    Among the concerns raised by the organisation were continuing use of excessive force by US soldiers, arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment in detention centres, and impunity for past and current human rights violations.

    "It is unacceptable that the coalition forces appear to continue to use excessive force on a wide-scale resulting in civilian deaths. The Iraqi people deserve security and peace not more bloodshed."

    The US-led occupiers and governing authorities acknowledge the violence problem.

    But they insist they are doing their best to control it by confiscating weapons, detaining criminals and getting the Iraqi police force back on its feet.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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