Iraq casualty toll rises in October

BAGHDAD Wed Nov 2, 2011 5:53am EDT

Iraqi policemen provide security during a memorial ceremony for victims killed in a militant attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Church in 2010, at the Church in Baghdad October 31, 2011.  REUTERS/Saad Shalash

Iraqi policemen provide security during a memorial ceremony for victims killed in a militant attack on the Our Lady of Salvation Church in 2010, at the Church in Baghdad October 31, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Saad Shalash

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The number of civilians killed in violence in Iraq climbed sharply in October, according to government figures, amid concerns about security after U.S. President Barack Obama's decision to pull out U.S. troops.

The Health Ministry said 161 civilians were killed in October compared to 110 in September. The toll was the highest this year while September's was the second lowest.

The number of police officers killed rose to 55 from 42 in September, while 42 soldiers died in violence compared to 33 the previous month, according to statistics from the interior and defense ministries released late on Tuesday.

Bombings and other attacks wounded 195 civilians, 142 police and 101 soldiers, the ministries said.

Eighty-five insurgents were killed during the month.

Obama announced on October 21 that U.S. forces would withdraw completely by year-end as scheduled under terms of a 2008 security pact, nearly nine years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.

The decision came after Washington and Baghdad failed to reach agreement to keep some troops in Iraq, despite concerns that the Iraqi forces are not ready to handle external threats.

October saw a number of major attacks including a bombing on a busy commercial street in northeastern Baghdad last Thursday that killed at least 30 and wounded scores, and a string of suicide and roadside bombings targeting police in the capital on October 12 that killed at least 28.

(Reporting by Kareem Raheem; Writing by Jim Loney Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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