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Iraq suffers highest death toll in years

Violence, which surged after deadly crackdown on protests, claimed more than 8,000 lives, mostly civilians, in 2013.

Last updated: 02 Jan 2014 21:11
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The UN mission to Iraq says violence claimed the lives of 7,818 civilians in 2013, the highest annual death toll in years.

The UN figures issued Wednesday gave a total of 759 people killed in December alone, including 661 civilians and 98 members of the security forces.

The UN's monthly figures for both civilians and security forces over the year totalled 8,868.

The ongoing deterioration in security was underlined on Thursday, when two bombs exploded in different parts of the country.

The first occurred in Balad Ruz, about 50km southeast of the city of Baquba, when a car bomb killed at least a dozen people and wounded about 25 people.

The second happened when a mini-bus blew up in the predominantly Shia neighbourhood of Shaab in northern Baghdad,

Thursday's blasts came as security forces and tribesmen continue to fight in Anbar province, which is west of the capital Baghdad.

Violence in Iraq surged in April after the Shia-led government staged a deadly crackdown on a Sunni protest camp.

Iraq's al-Qaeda branch has capitalised on the soaring sectarian tensions and on the civil war in neighbouring Syria to rebuild itself.

The group has targeted civilians, particularly in Shia areas of Baghdad, with waves of coordinated car bombings and other deadly attacks.

The violence prompted Shia armed groups to retaliate with similar attacks in predominantly Sunni areas.

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