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Bodies flood Baghdad morgue despite Zarqawi's death

Written by: Staff

BAGHDAD, July 5 (Reuters) Baghdad's central morgue received 1,595 bodies last month -- the highest number since the February bombing of a Shi'ite shrine sparked a wave of sectarian killings, a morgue official said today.

The figures show the level of violence in Iraq has increased even after the killing on June 7 of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a U.S. air strike.

Morgue assistant manager Doctor Abdul Razzaq al-Obaidi said tallies for June compared to the 1,375 bodies the morgue received in May and 1,155 in April.

''June is the highest month in terms of receiving cases of violence since Samarra,'' he told Reuters. Obaidi said most of the bodies had gunshot wounds to the head -- a common feature of sectarian, execution-style killings.

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Tuesday the death of Zarqawi had not improved security.

Zarqawi was blamed for a campaign of car bombs and suicide attacks U.S. and Iraqi officials said was aimed at sparking a civil war among Shi'ites and Sunnis in Iraq.

Iraq's health, interior and defence ministries consistently provide lower figures than those released by the morgue.

Sectarian tension has been simmering since the attack on the Golden Mosque of Samarra, which U.S. and Iraqi officials blamed on al Qaeda.

Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was sworn into office in May, has unveiled a national reconciliation plan aimed at easing violence.


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