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BAGHDAD -- Iraq's central statistics and IT authorities say the country will conduct its first census in 22 years later this year.

The central bureau of statistics and information technology's director, Mahdi al-Allaq, announced the plan in an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq.

Al-Allaq said that the census will wrap up by October 24 and will be the first count to include the Kurdish autonomous region since 1987 (a census excluding Kurdistan was held in 1997).

Thousands are being trained to collect data in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund, and a smaller, "rehearsal" census covering six provinces will be taken in May.

The census form, approved by the UN, will collect information on Iraqis' marriage status, ethnicity, and religion.
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