Iraq Has Highest Monthly Death Toll in Five Years

BAGHDAD (AP) -

More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in July, the highest monthly death toll in five years, the U.N. said Thursday, indicating rapidly deteriorating security as sectarian tensions soar nearly two years after U.S. troops withdrew from the country.

Violence has been on the rise all year, but the number of attacks against civilians and security forces has spiked during the Islamic month of Ramadan, which began early last month. The increased bloodshed has intensified fears that Iraq is on a path back to the widespread chaos that nearly tore the country apart in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The U.N. Mission in Iraq said 1,057 Iraqis were killed and 2,326 wounded in July, the highest toll since June 2008.

The increase was particularly troubling because the numbers had begun declining five years ago following a series of U.S.-led offensives and a Sunni revolt against al-Qaida in Iraq.

“I reiterate my urgent call on Iraq’s political leaders to take immediate and decisive action to stop the senseless bloodshed,” acting U.N. envoy to Iraq Gyorgy Busztin said in a statement.

The U.N. said that 928 of those killed in July were civilians and 129 were Iraqi security forces.

In all, 4,137 civilians have been killed and 9,865 wounded this year, according to the statement. That was up from 1,684 killed in the January-July period last year.

Al-Qaida in Iraq has claimed responsibility for many of the suicide attacks and car bombings in recent days, seeking to undermine Iraq’s Shiite government.