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Iraq Civilian Deaths Are Highest Since April

The scene of a deadly August bombing outside the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad
BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- The number of civilians recorded killed in violence in Iraq shot up to 393 in August, its highest level since April, after a spate of huge bombings caused carnage in Baghdad and northern Iraq.

Figures from the Ministry of Health showed a big increase on last month's 224 violent deaths in Iraq. The figure was also slightly higher than the 382 killed in August last year.

Two massive truck bombs in Baghdad on August 19 at government ministries killed 95 people in Iraq's bloodiest day this year. Iraqi security officials made a rare admission of culpability for failing to stop the blasts on that day.

In April, some 395 civilians died in violence in Iraq, including 105 Iranian Shi'ite pilgrims killed in bombings blamed on Sunni Islamist Al-Qaeda.

The numbers are still far lower than at the height of the sectarian violence between once dominant Sunnis and majority Shi'ites in 2006 and 2007. In August 2007, for example, 1,773 civilians were killed, according to the Health Ministry data.

The number of U.S. troops killed in hostile acts remained low at four in August, the same number killed in July, according to, which tracks coalition casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This was largely owing to sharply reduced U.S. military activity since its troops pulled out of Iraqi cities in June.

Many Iraqis fear their own security forces, rebuilt from scratch since being disbanded by Iraq's U.S. administrators after the 2003 invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, are not yet up to the job of keeping security.

At least 4,336 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, official figures show.

Close to 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in Iraq's violence in that time, according to