151,000 Iraqis Killed, Study Says

New survey touted as most reliable yet, but definite figure hard to come by
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2008 7:47 PM CST
Iraqi men carry the coffin of a policeman who was killed after a roadside bomb attack in Affak, during his funeral in Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – More than 150,000 Iraqis—about 120 a day—were killed in the first three years of the Iraqi war following the US invasion in 2003, a new study says. The estimate, from the WHO and the Iraqi government, is said to be the most scientific study yet of the civilian death toll, but the true figure may never be known, the AP reports.

Unreported deaths, Muslim burial traditions, suspicion of central authority, and Iraq’s chaotic environment all could distort the numbers. Other studies have yielded lower numbers, although a widely reported one in the Lancet medical journal two years ago put the toll at 600,000. "The goal is not to give an absolute, precise number of deaths," said one expert in the field. "The goal is to give a sense of the magnitude of the problem."