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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

Pentagon Estimates Iraqi Deaths

October 30, 2005|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

WASHINGTON — In a rare look at how the Defense Department tracks non-U.S. casualties in the war in Iraq, the Pentagon has estimated that about 26,000 Iraqis were killed or wounded by insurgents between Jan. 1, 2004, and Sept. 16 of this year.

The Pentagon, in response to questions from congressional staffers, provided daily casualty estimates -- those killed and wounded -- over six time periods, the most recent period ending Sept. 16. Applying those daily estimates to the number of days in each period results in nearly 26,000, a total not included in the Pentagon report.

In the most recent period, from Aug. 29 to Sept. 16, an estimated 64 Iraqis were hurt or killed each day, the report said. The rate increased in four of the last five periods.

"It's a kind of a snapshot," Pentagon spokesman Greg Hicks said Saturday. "The Defense Department doesn't maintain a comprehensive or authoritative count of Iraqi casualties."

The Pentagon provided the estimates in a bar graph in a 44-page security and stability report to Congress on Oct. 13, its second quarterly report, mandated by lawmakers. The report is now available on the Internet at www.defenselink.mil/news/Oct2005/d20051013iraq.pdf.

Hicks said the estimates were gathered from initial incident reports by subordinate units of coalition forces and were not meant to be comprehensive.

The report said an average of 26 Iraqis were killed or wounded each day from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2004. That went up to 30 a day from April 1 to June 28, 2004; then 40 a day from June 29 to Nov. 26, 2004; and 51 a day from Nov. 27, 2004, to Feb. 11, 2005.

The rate ebbed slightly, to 49 a day from Feb. 12 to Aug. 28, but went up again to 64 a day from Aug. 29 to Sept. 16.

The report noted that 85% of all insurgent attacks occur in four of Iraq's 18 provinces: Baghdad, Al Anbar, Salahuddin and Nineveh. The four provinces are home to less than 42% of Iraq's population, the report said.

A recent count by Associated Press found that at least 3,870 Iraqis had died in the last six months. A U.S. military spokesman told AP last week that as many as 30,000 Iraqis may have died during the war, which began in March 2003.

More than 2,015 American military personnel serving in Iraq have died since the war began.

The report also detailed insurgent attacks on Iraq's infrastructure. From mid-February to late August, there were an average of four attacks per week. That jumped to 10 per week from late August to mid-September.

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