BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The number of civilians killed in violence in Iraq fell last year and December was the least deadly month of 2010, official figures showed on Saturday.
Last year, 2,505 civilians were killed in bombings and other attacks, compared with 2,773 in 2009, according to Health Ministry figures.
In December, 89 civilians were killed compared with 105 in November and 120 in October. It was one of the lowest monthly civilian death tolls since the height of sectarian carnage in 2006-2007.
On Thursday, a study by human rights group Iraq Body Count (IBC) showed the number of Iraqi civilians killed in violence in Iraq this year fell to its lowest level since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. It put the 2010 civilian death toll in Iraq at 3,976 up to December 23, compared to 4,680 in 2009.
About 4,748 foreign soldiers have also been killed in combat in Iraq since the war began, according to www.icasualties.org, which tracks casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The annual foreign military toll in Iraq has fallen sharply, too, especially as Iraqi forces have taken the lead on security.
Twenty one Iraqi soldiers and 41 police officers were killed in December, according to figures from the Defense and Interior Ministries, compared with 23 and 43 respectively in November.
In 2010, 348 Iraqi soldiers and 672 police officers were killed, the figures showed.
Casualties have declined since August despite predictions that the end of U.S. combat operations on August 31 and the transfer of full responsibility for security to Iraqi forces, might result in an increase in attacks.
Overall violence has fallen sharply since 2006-07 and the all-out sectarian slaughter between once dominant Sunnis and majority Shi’ites has eased in Iraq.