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Scene from a refugee camp near Al-Karbala (file photo) (epa)
July 20, 2006 -- Iraq's government said today that at least 162,000 people have fled their homes over the past five months in an effort to escape the sectarian violence that has swept the country.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Displaced and Migration, Sattar Nowruz, noted a "dangerous" rise of about 32,000 internally displaced people in July alone.
The official figures are believed to be lower than reality, as they reflect only those people who have sought aid from the ministry.
In Baghdad today, two separate car bombings killed at least five people and wounded more than 20 others.
The U.S. military says attacks in Baghdad over the past five days are up about 40 percent from the daily average of recent weeks. Officials at Baghdad's morgue say they have received about 1,000 corpses this month.
In northern Iraq, a car bomb killed at least four people and wounded about a dozen others. Local police say the bomb exploded after villagers gathered around the car after seeing a body inside. The blast occurred between the cities of Beiji and Tikrit.
Also in the north of the country, the U.S. military says U.S. and Iraqi troops have surrounded two towns near the city of Kirkuk as part of a search for Islamic extremists.
(compiled from agency reports)