Iraqi civilian toll uncertain

How many Iraqi civilians died in the recent combat in that country? The question is not an easy one to answer.

According to the Web site Iraq Body Count. Org., approximately 15 groups are trying to get an accurate tabulation, but they don’t agree on the figures.

The Miami Herald reported the battle for Baghdad resulted in at least 1,101 civilian deaths, according to records at 19 of that city’s hospitals.

Hospital records said another 1,255 dead probably were civilians, including many women and children. Numerous others who died never came to the attention of any official agency and went to unmarked shallow graves in backyards, gardens, mosques and parks.

The Herald reported the greatest number of deaths apparently occurred on April 5 and 6 as U.S. forces fought their way into Baghdad.

One Iraqi doctor said 60 to 70 percent of all the dead and wounded brought to his hospital were civilians.

But what of the overall total of civilian deaths across Iraq? Iraq Body said it surveyed all the available figures and arrived at a range. It estimates a minimum number of victims at 6,071 and a maximum of 7,780. Other sources reported a total in excess of 5,000.

Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of anglo-American forces, said the military did not make any body counts.

Efforts to track the total civilian casualties will continue.

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