BAGHDAD The number of people killed in militant attacks across Iraq reached 761 in June, lower than the multi-year high hit the previous month, the United Nations said on Monday.
More than 1,000 people were killed in violence in Iraq during May, making it the deadliest month since the height of sectarian bloodletting in 2006-07.
Violence is still well below the level it was then, but al-Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate and other Sunni Muslim insurgents launch attacks on a daily basis, seeking to undermine the Shi'ite-led government and provoke wider confrontation.
The vast majority of casualties in June were civilian, with 131 policemen and 76 members of the Iraqi security forces also killed, the United Nations said in a statement.
The worst-affected region was Baghdad, where 258 people were killed and the death toll in Salahuddin, Diyala, Nineveh and Anbar provinces each exceeded 100, the statement said.
On Monday, police discovered the bodies of eight former members of a government-backed Sunni militia who had been killed execution-style and dumped near the town Tarmiya, 25 km (15 miles) north of the capital.
Sectarian tensions in Iraq and the wider region have been inflamed by the civil war in Syria, where mainly Sunni Muslim rebels are fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Shi'ite Iran.
A decade after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, a stable power-sharing compromise is yet to be found between Shi'ites, Sunnis, and ethnic Kurds who run their own autonomous region in the north.
Last year, a total of 4,471 civilians were killed in what rights group Iraq Body Count described as a "low-level war" with insurgents - the first annual climb in the death toll in three years.
(Reporting and writing by Ahmed Rasheed; additional reporting by Kareem Raheem; editing by Elizabeth Piper)