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Monthly U.S. death toll in Iraq lowest since war

BAGHDAD, April 1 (Reuters) - The number of U.S. troops killed by hostile action in Iraq fell in March to the lowest level since the 2003 invasion, but total civilian deaths remained above January's low point.

The number of U.S. troops killed by bombs or gunfire in Iraq fell to four, down from 11 in February, according to statistics from Web site www.icasualties.org, which collates official data.

Iraqi Ministry of Health figures showed 180 civilians died violent deaths in March, down from 211 in February, but still above January's all-time low of 138, making March the second lowest monthly toll since the invasion.

The sectarian violence that left bodies piling up in the streets of Baghdad has ebbed, but al Qaeda and other insurgents continue to launch attacks in Baghdad and Iraq's restive northern Diyala and Nineveh provinces.

At least 4,262 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq, from both combat and non-combat related causes, since the March 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

Close to 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in Iraq in violence during that time, according to www.iraqbodycount.org. (Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Michael Christie)

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