BAGHDAD — Violence has claimed the lives of 799 Iraqis in May, the highest monthly death toll this year, the United Nations said Sunday, underlining the daunting challenges the government faces as it struggles to contain a surge in sectarian violence.
The figures issued by the UN mission to Iraq put last month’s civilian death toll at 603, with 196 security forces killed. The mission added that 1,409 Iraqis, including 1,108 civilians, were wounded. The previous month’s death toll stood at 750, making April the second-deadliest month of the year.
The worst-hit city was the capital Baghdad, with 315 people killed. The northern province of Ninevah came in second with 113, followed by nearby Salahuddin province with 94.
The figures exclude deaths in embattled Anbar province, where militants have controlled parts of the provincial capital Ramadi and nearby Fallujah since December.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a powerful Al Qaeda spinoff that also operates in neighboring Syria, has intensified its attacks across Iraq as political rivals work to form a new government following parliamentary elections on April 30.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s bloc emerged as the biggest winner, securing 92 seats in the 328-member Parliament, but it failed to gain the majority needed to govern alone. ‘‘I strongly deplore the sustained level of violence and terrorist acts that continues rocking the country,’’ the UN special representative in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said in the statement.