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More than 85,000 Iraqis killed in war violence, ministry says

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Independent group says Iraq government number in line with its totals
  • Iraqi Human Rights Ministry: 85,694 people killed from 2004 to October 31, 2008
  • Figures include civilians and security forces, not insurgents and militias
  • Government issues first official report of its kind since the war began
From Mohammed Tawfeeq and Yousif Bassil
CNN
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The bombings, shootings and fighting across Iraq in nearly five years of war have left more than 85,000 Iraqis dead, a government ministry said in a report.

Iraqis carry a coffin in 2006. A Human Rights Ministry report says 85,694 people were killed in war violence.

The Iraqi Human Rights Ministry said 85,694 people were killed from 2004 to October 31, 2008, in the violence across the country. There were 147,195 people wounded during the same period. The figures include civilians and Iraqi security forces but not insurgents and militias.

The review is considered the first official report of its kind by the Iraqi government since the war began. The ministry released the report Tuesday, and it has been posted on its Web site.

The death toll is Iraq has been a hot-button issue. Officials and other reports have said the toll is higher, and there has been disagreement about the scope of the casualties.

A ministry official told CNN that those numbers might be conservative, but they are the confirmed and documented numbers.

"Keep in your mind that there are a lot of missing people who we believe that they are dead, but can not confirm it. There are many people who have died and their families buried them without reporting it," the official said.

The war began in March 2003 with the U.S.-led invasion. But the official said that the causalities from 2003 are not documented because the governmental institutes were not fully operating, so there were no records from that period.

The independent Iraq Body Count project reports as many as 102,071 civilian deaths from the war's beginning through August 13, 2009. The IBC's Web site says its count includes only documented deaths and the actual number is probably higher.

IBC researcher Josh Dougherty on Thursday praised Iraq for its report.

"It is very good to see this information being released. It is always better for this information to be out in the open. Secrecy only breeds mistrust and doubt," Dougherty said.

He said the Human Rights Ministry numbers are in broad agreement with IBC numbers concerning overall totals and yearly trends, but asked that the Iraqi government release "incident by incident, or victim by victim" reports so the most accurate data could be determined.

According to the government report, there were 34,019 bodies recovered in streets, a reminder of the Sunni-Shiite fighting in Baghdad and elsewhere. The report also said the toll includes 15,000 unidentified and unclaimed bodies now buried in special cemeteries.

The death toll also includes 269 journalists, 263 professors, 95 lawyers and 21 judges. Insurgents attacked 219 Shiite mosques, 94 Sunni mosques and 41 churches.

The There is still violence in places including Baghdad and Nineveh province, but during the past year the attacks have dropped and the country is making strides to regain stability.

CNN's Brad Lendon contributed to this report.

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