A Wave Of Violence Sweeps Iraq

In 2009, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stood before lawmakers and experts at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., and proclaimed, “Today, Iraq has become a peaceful, democratic country that relies on its democratic institutions.”

At the time, violence in the country was at its lowest since the start of the Iraq War in 2003. The United States even had plans to withdraw its troops. Four years have passed, and while massacres in Iraq have diminished in frequency, they have persisted — even as many Americans believed sectarian violence had been suppressed.

Iraqi Deaths, March 2003 to November 2013

Source: IraqBodyCount.org, monthly counts are based on minimum killed

Al-Maliki returned to the same location in October, but this time he posed a question:

“Why is terrorism back to Iraq and the region?”

The death toll in Iraq this year ranges from some 7,900 to 8,700 people so far, making 2013 the most deadly year for the country since 2008, according to IraqBodyCount.org, a U.K.-based website founded in 2003 and run by volunteers to record civilian deaths. The special United Nations representative for Iraq described some recent attacks as “execution-style killings,” and single bombings have claimed as many as 85 lives. Many independent monitors are concerned the situation will continue to worsen.

Victims of Major Bombings in Iraq Since April 24, 2013

Sectarian bombings are often the attacks with the most catastrophic consequences. At the end of April, a deadly raid by Iraqi security forces on a Sunni protest encampment triggered a new wave of violence. The Huffington Post mapped the major bombings in Iraq since violence intensified this past spring through Dec. 16, recording the deaths of more than 2,700 individuals.

killed since April 24
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About the Data

While the U.S. military and its allies have tracked the casualties suffered by troops, few parties have been able to count the number of Iraqis injured or killed since the start of the war in 2003. While the U.S. made an effort to document civilian casualty data during its presence in the country, the administration “had consistent problems in collecting and defining data, changed methods and failed to estimate the margin of uncertainty,” according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a D.C.-based think tank.

The Iraqi Government, too, attempted to quantify the number of slain citizens, but that set of data appears to undercount fatalities when compared to recent efforts by the United Nations. According to CSIS, the Iraqi government’s figures “failed to meet the most basic criteria to validate the integrity of their reporting.”

While total fatality counts can differ between sources such as the U.N. and IraqBodyCount.org, one of the most comprehensive databases of Iraqi deaths, each measure shows increased violence since the spring. IraqBodyCount.org has consistently identified incidents of violence dating back to March 2003 by using media reports, then verified each event using secondary sources.

Based on this data and media reports, HuffPost mapped major bombings that occurred in Iraq since April 24, 2013. For some events the exact number killed isn’t known and a range is provided. For other events it’s possible that some deaths went unreported. For these reasons, the map and charts show the minimum number of Iraqis killed and may undercount the total number of fatalities.

Sources: IraqBodyCount.org, CNN, AFP, Reuters, AP, Express, UPI, Al-Alam, Press TV, Al Shorfa, Xinhua, BBC, The Guardian, Nina News, Iraqi News and Al Jazeera.
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Map data by OpenStreetMap, licensed under CC BY SA.