Iraq Violence Rises in November

The number of people killed in attacks in Iraq rose in November compared with October, many of them dying in the last few days of the month, figures compiled by the government and AFP showed.

According to figures from the health, interior and defence ministries, a total of 166 people were killed in attacks in November -- 101 civilians, 35 police and 30 soldiers, while 252 -- 129 civilians, 68 police and 55 soldiers -- were wounded.

An AFP tally based on information from security and medical sources meanwhile put the figure at 160 killed and 664 wounded.

Government figures for October indicated that 144 people were killed that month, while AFP's tally showed 136 people were killed.

According to the AFP figures, 82 people -- more than half of those killed in the entire month -- died in attacks from November 26 through 30.

Ali al-Haidari, an Iraqi security expert, pointed to the relaxation of tight measures put in place for major Ashura Shiite religious commemorations that peaked on November 25 as a possible explanation for some of the violence at the end of the month.

"What happened is that security forces were in the peak of readiness and activity during the last occasion (Ashura)," but became less so after the commemorations concluded, Haidari said.

"Security forces usually become tired after such occasions, and the enemy benefits from this directly," he added.

While the end of November saw a spate of attacks, the Ashura commemorations, during which dozens of people were killed in attacks in years past, were largely free of violence.

However, two attacks against Shiite pilgrims killed three people and wounded 35.

Members of Iraq's security forces and the country's Shiite majority are both frequently targeted in bomb attacks by Sunni insurgents.

Violence in Iraq has decreased dramatically from its peak in 2006 and 2007, when brutal sectarian violence swept the country, but attacks remain common.

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