Iraq’s civilian casualties rose 36% in February, with 633 suffering violent deaths and another 701 wounded, the Iraqi government reported today. That's up from 466 dead in January. The spike reflects three extraordinarily bloody bombings, including pet market bombings in early February that killed 99, and a suicide bombing that killed 63 Shiite pilgrims last week, Reuters reports.
US commanders blamed those attacks on al-Qaeda, which has employed new tactics of late, including the increased use of female bombers. Both the pet market bombers were women. But the death toll was still dramatically lower than it was last February, when 1,645 civilians were killed and 2,700 were wounded. The US said 29 American troops were killed in February, down from 40 in January and 81 from last February.