UNITED NATIONS – Nearly 6,000 civilians were slain across Iraq in May and June, a spike in deaths that coincided with rising sectarian attacks across the country, the United Nations said Tuesday.
The report from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq describes a wave of lawlessness and crime, including assassinations, bombings, kidnappings, torture and intimidation.
Hundreds of teachers, judges, religious leaders and doctors have been targeted for death, and thousands of people have fled, the report said. Evidence suggests militants also have begun to target homosexuals, it said.
"While welcoming recent positive steps by the government to promote national reconciliation, the report raises alarm at the growing number of casualties among the civilian population killed or wounded during indiscriminate or targeted attacks by terrorists or insurgents," the U.N. said in a note accompanying the report.
In the last two days alone, more than 120 people were killed in violence in Iraq. In the worst attacks, fifty-three perished in a suicide bombing Tuesday in Kufa, and 50 were slain Monday in a market in Mahmoudiya.
According to the report, 2,669 civilians were killed in May and 3,149 were killed in June. Those numbers combined two counts: from the Ministry of Health, which records deaths reported by hospitals; and the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad, which tallies the unidentified bodies it receives.
The report charts a month-by-month increase in the number of civilians killed, from 710 in January to 1,129 in April. In the first six months of the year, it said 14,338 people had been killed.
The report's figures were higher than some other counts, but even the U.N. said many killings go unreported.
According to an Associated Press tally based on its daily reporting, at least 1,511 civilians were killed, in May and June, with at least an additional 289 police and security forces killed.
The AP tally showed that from January through June 2006, at least 4,191 civilians were killed. The minimum number of police and security forces casualties in that period was at least 805 killed. The AP figures do not include insurgents.
It was unclear whether the tally from the Medico-Legal Institute included only those who were killed as a result of violence.
The spike in casualties comes despite the formation of a unity government, which took power on July 20. U.S. officials had hoped it would make good on promises to disband Shiite militants and bring Sunni insurgents into the fold.
Yet, as the report said, parts of Iraq have seen "collusion between criminal gangs, militias and sectarian 'hit groups,' alleged death squads, vigilante groups and religious extremists."
It also details the rise in kidnappings, particularly of large groups of people. On May 17, for example, the report said 15 Tae Kwon Do athletes were kidnapped in western Iraq.
"There is no news regarding their whereabouts," the report said.
Women report that their rights have been rolled back by extremist Muslim groups — both Shiite and Sunni. While under Saddam Hussein's largely secular regime, women faced few social restrictions, they say they are now barred from going to market alone, wearing pants or driving cars.
And children are frequently victims, perishing in large crowds or sometimes even targeted themselves, the report said.
"Violence, corruption, inefficiency of state organs to exert control over security, establish the rule of law and protect individual and collective rights all lead to inability of both the state and the family to meet the needs of children," it said.
The government still has not pursued many allegations of torture and other inhumane treatment in prisons and detention centers, the U.N. said.