U.S.-led coalition forces insist that stability is returning to Iraq. The ledger in the Baghdad morgue tells a different tale.
The number of reported gun-related killings in Baghdad has increased 25-fold since President Bush declared an end to major combat May 1. Before the war began, the morgue investigated an average of 20 deaths a month caused by firearms. In June, that number rose to 389 and in August it reached 518. Moreover, the overall number of suspicious deaths jumped from about 250 a month last year to 872 in August.
The Baghdad morgue is beyond full. Refrigeration boxes that usually hold six bodies are crammed with 18. An unidentified corpse is dragged across the floor beneath the blue glow of an insect-repelling light. Five others — two pocked with gunshot wounds — lie on steel tables. With quiet determination, pathologists lift their scalpels, chart their findings and fill the waiting coffins.
Most of the dead here are not casualties of military actions or terrorist attacks, such as last month's bombing of the United Nations headquarters, which killed at least 20 people. Nor are they American soldiers.
Instead, they are everyday civilians, victims of the violence that has become a fact of life in a city that wakes and sleeps to the cadence of gunfire and unrelenting crime. The coalition forces and the new Iraqi police have been unable to stop the torrent of mayhem springing from robberies, carjackings and just plain anger.
eight hundred and seventy two in August. I'm sure Brit "I love my dead gay son" Hume will figure out how this doesn't even exceed the murder rate of Pittsburgh. or something.
(oops. URL fixed)