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Iraqi Civilian Death Toll Rises in February After Six-Month Decline

  • VOA News

The Iraqi government says the number of civilians killed in February rose by more than 30 percent from the previous month.

Iraqi authorities released figures on Saturday that show at least 630 civilians died in February. That compares with about 450 in January -- the lowest civilian death toll in Iraq in about a half-year.

Several suicide bombings helped push the monthly toll back up. US and Iraqi officials have blamed al-Qaida in Iraq for many of the recent attacks.

In other news, the US military in Iraq says it has captured an insurgent leader suspected of trying to recruit women to carry out suicide vest bombings. A statement says the suspect planned to use his wife and another woman as suicide bombers in his next attack.

The military says coalition forces detained the man Thursday near Khan Bani Sad in volatile Diyala province.

The US military says al-Qaida in Iraq is using women more frequently to carry out suicide bombings. Early last month, two mentally disabled women strapped with explosives blew themselves up at pet markets in Baghdad, killing about 100 people.

Separately, the US military says coalition forces captured an alleged "special groups" facilitator and three other suspected criminals in Baghdad today. The facilitator is believed to be an Iranian-trained sniper instructor involved in attacks on Iraqi and coalition soldiers.

US military officials use the term "special groups" to describe Shi'ite militias allegedly backed by Iran that have broken ranks with the Mahdi Army of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

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