Violence in Iraq reached nearly 2-year peak in July

Iraqi security gather at the site of twin car bombs in the Karrada area of the capital Baghdad on July 31, 2012.

Story highlights

  • The violence continues in August, with five police officers shot dead
  • Violence last month killed more people than in any month since August 2010
  • Islamist militants claim responsibility for the deadliest day
  • 50 "terrorists" are killed, but the government does not include them in the official tally

Violence in Iraq hit a nearly two-year peak in July, with 325 deaths reported, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

That's the deadliest single month since August 2010, when the toll reached 426, the ministry said.

Of July's tally, 123 were killed in a single day -- July 23 -- in a string of attacks by an Islamist militant group.

The al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for that day of bloodshed, when 35 coordinated attacks struck seven Iraqi provinces. ISI militants carried out assassinations and shootings as well as car and roadside bombings in what it called a "new phase" operation.

Opinion: Violence in Iraq? It's the politics, stupid!

The government said July's fatalities included 241 civilians, 44 Iraqi soldiers and 40 Iraqi police.

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The number of wounded was more than double that of the dead, according to the data, which were compiled from records at the ministries of health, defense and interior. Of the 697 people wounded, 480 were civilians, 95 soldiers and 122 police.

Although "terrorists" are excluded from the official death toll, 50 were killed in July and another 300 were detained, according to government figures.

The last day of July was particularly bloody, with 20 killed and 100 wounded in attacks across the country.

The killing continued August 1, when five Iraqi police officers were killed and three others were wounded in separate attacks against two Iraqi police checkpoints, police officials said.

One of the attacks took place in Taji, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Baghdad, when gunmen opened fire on a checkpoint, killing four police officers, a Baghdad police official told CNN.

The second attack occurred some 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of the capital in central Falluja, where gunmen at a checkpoint shot and killed a police officer and wounded four people, three of them police officers, a Falluja police official said.

Violence has dropped dramatically in Iraq since the peak of Sunni-Shiite clashes in 2006 and 2007 and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country in December, but insurgent attacks against civilians and security forces persist in the country, which is still smoldering with sectarian tension and political infighting.

Opinion: It's up to Iraq's government to prevent a civil war

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