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Iraq bristles at U.N. report

January 19, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

BAGHDAD — Iraq's government Thursday strongly criticized a U.N. report on human rights that put the country's civilian death toll last year at 34,452, saying it was "superficial" and discussed subjects that are taboo in Iraqi society, such as homosexuality.

The response came on a day when bombs and bullets killed at least 60 people in Baghdad and beyond.

Although not rejecting the casualty figure, government spokesman Ali Dabbagh said the U.N. Assistance Mission report was "not professional or neutral as we would expect from the missions of the international organization. The report was superficial in dealing with several points."

A compilation of Iraqi government figures from three agencies put the number of civilians killed last year at 12,357.

But a Health Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the information, said 16,000 bodies of victims of violence had been taken to the Baghdad morgue alone last year and it appeared that the U.N. figure was "about correct."

When asked what the government didn't accept about the report, Dabbagh said, "I am not talking about figures. I am talking about details in the report."

The U.N. report, released Tuesday in Baghdad, also criticized the government's human rights record, raising concern about treatment of homosexuals and other vulnerable groups.

Thursday's attacks included half a dozen car bombs in the capital, beginning about 8 a.m. The first blast killed four police officers and injured 10 downtown. Later in the day, three successive car bombs exploded at a greengrocer's market in the southern neighborhood of Dora, killing at least 12 people and injuring 32.

A fifth car bomb killed one and injured 10 in east Baghdad. The sixth killed two and injured four.

Various mortar attacks in the city killed five people and wounded 13. And authorities recovered at least 26 bodies dumped in various neighborhoods.

South of the capital, two bodies were fished from the Tigris River near the city of Kut, while a feud between two families in that area left four dead.

In the southern province of Babil, a roadside bomb killed a butcher in his shop, and in a separate attack, armed men assaulted a police checkpoint, gunning down three policemen.

In Basra, British forces came under multiple attacks. The assaults included gunfire, roadside bombs and more than a dozen rockets fired at the palace housing British forces, according to a military spokeswoman.

A British soldier and eight Iraqis were injured, including three female students, she said.

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