Iraq witnesses lowest death toll since February 2006

Baghdad(Xinhua) : The death toll across Iraq in November dropped to its lowest level since the breakout of sectarian strife in February last year, a government report said.

The report compiled by the ministries of health, interior and defence said Saturday that a total of 606 Iraqis, including 537 civilians, were killed in the past month.

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The casualties of November are the lowest since the sectarian bloodshed came to an escalation following the blast at a holy Shia mosque in February 2006.

Separately, the toll for the US troops also recorded a new low at 37 in November since March 2006 when 31 American servicemen were killed, according to a website that follows coalition force casualties. In October 38 US troops were killed in Iraq.

Several factors were attributed to the low death toll in the past month, which include a surge of US troops, the ceasefire of a major Shia militia force and the uprising against Al Qaeda by tribal and neighbourhood armed groups.

Despite the improvement, concerns remain strong about how long the rosy circumstances would last due to a lack of tangible reconciliation in the heavily divided nation.

Iraq’s largest Sunni political bloc, the Accord Front, announced Saturday a walkout from the parliament in protest of the “house arrest” of its leader Adnan al-Dulaimi and the arrest of dozens of his body guards and aides, including his son.

However, the Iraqi security force denied al-Dulaimi was under a “house arrest”, arguing that he was under protection after the discovery of two booby-trapped cars in his office compound Thursday.

The bloc withdrew its ministers in August from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s united government, saying the Shias had ignored its demands.

As the reconciliation process bogged down in Iraq, the country is still witnessing bloody attacks staged by terrorists and extremists, although there was ebb to some extent.

An overnight assault allegedly by Al Qaeda members killed at least 11 people at a village in the volatile Diyala province.

Since mid-November, a wave of bomb attacks have rocked Baghdad, breaking the recent lull. Among them, the explosion on Nov 23 killed at least 13 and injured nearly 60 in a pet market in Baghdad, causing the largest loss for about two months.