More than 90,000 civilians were killed in just five years during the war in Iraq with general lawlessness accounting for the largest proportion, a new analysis suggests.
Researchers have found that while coalition forces accounted for 12pc of deaths and Iraqi forces 11pc, the vast majority of violent killings were killed by unknown perpetrators.
Of those by far the biggest proportion - around a third of the total - was summary executions and kidnappings between rival factions and gangs as law and order broke down.
The study by King’s College London, published in PLoS Medicine, provides the most detailed assessment so far of civilian deaths in the course of the conflict.
Madelyn Hsiao-Rei Hicks, and colleagues analyzed data from Iraq Body Count (IBC), a non-governmental project that collates media reports of deaths of individual Iraqi civilians and cross-checks these reports with data from hospitals, morgues, non-governmental organisations and official figures.
The authors studied 92,614 Iraqi civilian direct deaths from the database that occurred as a result of armed violence between March 20th, 2003, and March 19th, 2008.
The authors found that most Iraqi civilian violent deaths during this time were inflicted by “unknown perpetrators”, primarily through extra-judicial executions.
These were primarily gunshot wounds often preceded by kidnap and torture.
Unknown perpetrators also used suicide bombs, vehicle bombs, and mortars that had highly lethal and indiscriminate effects on Iraqi civilians.
Deaths caused by Coalition forces of Iraqi civilians, of women and children, and of Iraqi civilians from air attacks, peaked during the invasion in 2003.