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US Christian leader ‘shocked’ at Iraq death-toll study statistics

The head of the US National Council of Churches says he is shocked by the results of a new study – contested by President George W. Bush – estimating that more than 600,000 Iraqis may have died as a result of the US-led invasion of March 2003.

"The perpetrators of this war can no longer tell us this is ‘collateral damage’," said the Rev. Robert Edgar, NCC general secretary, a prominent opponent of the invasion of Iraq. "They must face up to the widespread death and destruction that is being inflicted daily upon innocent men, women and children."

But President Bush disputed the study conducted by US and Iraqi epidemiologists, saying its findings were not credible and its methodology "pretty well discredited".

The study’s overall fatality figure is far higher than official estimates or the death toll reported in the media, the British Christian Web site www.ekklesia.org.uk noted.

The study published on 11 October was carried out by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. It was based on a national survey conducted between May and July of 1849 Iraqi households, and estimated that 654,965 Iraqis might still be alive but for the US-led invasion. Ninety per cent of the deaths were due to violent acts, the study said.

The full text of the study can be accessed here: www.thelancet.com/webfiles/images/journals/lancet/s0140673606694919.pdf

A summary of the study can be accessed here: www.jhsph.edu/publichealthnews/press_releases/2006/burnham_iraq_2006.html

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