BAGHDAD — The United Nations said Saturday that violence across Iraq in February killed 703 people, a death toll higher than the year before as the country faces a rising wave of militant attacks rivaling the sectarian bloodshed that followed the US-led invasion.
The figures issued by the UN’s mission to Iraq is close to January’s death toll of 733, showing that a surge of violence that began 10 months ago with a government crackdown on a Sunni protest camp is not receding. Meanwhile, attacks Saturday killed at least five and wounded 14, authorities said.
Attacks killed 564 civilians and 139 security force members in February, the UN said. The violence wounded 1,381, the vast majority civilians. That compares with February 2013, when attacks killed 418 civilians and wounded 704.
The capital, Baghdad, was the worst affected with 239 people killed, according to the UN. Two predominantly Sunni provinces — central Salaheddin with 121 killed and northern Ninevah with 94 killed — followed. UN mission chief Nickolay Mladenov appealed to Iraqis to stop the violence.
Widespread chaos nearly tore the country apart after the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. The violence ebbed in 2008 after a series of US-Iraqi military offensives, a Shi’ite militia cease-fire, and a Sunni revolt against Al Qaeda in Iraq.
But last year, the country saw the highest death toll since the worst of the country’s sectarian bloodletting, according to the UN, with 8,868 people killed.