July bloodiest month in Iraq in 2 years
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Militants killed 325 Iraqis in July making it the bloodiest month in two years, Health Ministry figures showed, as the country battles insurgents after the U.S. withdrawal.
The figures showed 241 civilians, 44 soldiers and 40 policemen were killed last month and almost 700 people were injured.
The worst day of violence was on July 23 when more than 100 people were killed in bomb and gun attacks across Iraq. The coordinated violence against mostly Shi'ite Muslim targets was claimed by al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq.
Sunni insurgents often attack Shi'ite targets to try to reignite sectarian violence that killed tens of thousands of people in 2006-2007, pushing Iraq to the brink of civil war.
The insurgents have launched at least one major assault a month since U.S. troops withdrew in December, leaving behind a country riven with political and sectarian feuding.
In June, a Reuters count showed 237 people were killed and more than 600 wounded.
July's death toll was the highest since August 2010 when the government said 426 people were killed.
Iraqi officials say al Qaeda militants are passing in and out of Syria through the 680-km (420-mile) border. Baghdad has sent troops and tanks to strengthen security at the frontier with Syria where fighting between government forces and rebels has become more intense in the 17-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
Al Qaeda's Iraqi wing, the Islamic State of Iraq, warned last month that it planned to revitalize its campaign, weakened under assault from U.S. troops and Sunni militias in 2007.
Some of the July attacks were more daring than usual. Militants attacked a military base and, on Tuesday, gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed a police counter-terrorism headquarters in a failed attempt to free al Qaeda prisoners.
(Reporting by Kareem Raheem; writing by Barry Malone; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
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