LONDON, AP – A British research group said Tuesday that about 25,000 civilians died in violence in Iraq in the two years after the start of the U.S.-led invasion.
Iraq Body Count compiled its figures of killings that occurred between March 20, 2003 and March 19, 2005 from reports by the major news agencies, including The Associated Press and British and American newspapers.
The results could not be independently confirmed. U.S. and coalition authorities say they have not kept a count of such deaths and Iraqi accounting has proven to be haphazard.
"There are no wholly reliable figures for civilian deaths," Britain”s Foreign Office said. "It is recognized by everybody that statistics are very hard to collect under these circumstances."
The new estimate was much lower than the figure of 98,000 civilian deaths that appeared in a study in medical journal The Lancet in October 2004.
"The ever-mounting Iraqi death toll is the forgotten cost of the decision to go to war in Iraq," said John Sloboda, a psychology professor at Keele University in central England and co-founder of the group.
Iraq Body Count found:
• U.S.-led coalition forces were responsible for 37.3 percent of the total. About three-quarters of those fatalities occurred during the invasion phase up to May 1, 2003.
• "Predominantly criminal killings" linked to the huge crime wave that struck Iraq after the collapse of Saddam Hussein”s government accounted for 35.6 percent.
• Insurgency, or anti-occupation, forces were responsible for 9.5 percent.
• Deaths caused by suicide bombs and other attacks that lacked a clearly identifiable military objective amounted to 11 percent. Iraq Body Count said there would likely be some overlap between this category and the "anti-occupation forces" one.
• U.S.-led troops and anti-occupation forces were involved in a further 2.5 percent.
• Civilian deaths blamed on what the Iraqi Ministry of Health described as "military actions" and "terrorist attacks" amounted to 3.8 percent. It wasn”t immediately clear how Iraq Body Count separated these deaths from those it attributed to coalition or anti-occupation forces. A spokesman for the research project wasn”t immediately available for comment.