Bombs blitz Baghdad as UN warns of chaos
BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least six bombs exploded around Baghdad as the death toll from a brutal civil conflict continued to rise steeply and a top UN official warned that Iraq is spiralling out of control.
US President George W. Bush and the Iraqi government issued coordinated denials of an independent US study which estimates that 655,000 Iraqis have died since the 2003 US invasion, dismissing the report as dubious and exaggerated.
In continuing violence on the ground, the leader of a religious minority was shot dead in front of his home and US soldiers battled to control a fire triggered by a mortar attack on an ammunition store.
The latest attacks came after two days in which Baghdad police found the corpses of 110 murder victims scattered across the capital, which is in the grip of a vicious turf war between Sunni and Shiite factions
"Our appeal goes to everybody who can curb the violence: religious, ethnic, cultural leaders have to see that this has spiralled totally out of control," said United Nations Under Secretary General Jan Egeland in Geneva.
"Sectarian violence and military operations have now resulted in the displacement of 315,000 people in these past eight months," the top UN humanitarian official told reporters.
"One thousand people now would be displaced per day at least, and perhaps even worse is the fact that 100 people are killed every day."
The victims were mainly police recruits, judges, lawyers, journalists and women targeted for "honour crimes", prompting a brain drain of professionals who are essential to rebuild the country, according to Egeland.
Meanwhile, Bush dismissed as "not credible" research by the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, which suggests 655,000 Iraqis have been killed since the US-led invasion.