More Than 900 Killed in Iraq in May: Officials

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Baghdad:  Violence in Iraq claimed more than 900 lives last month, official figures and the UN reported on Sunday, with bloodshed at its highest level since a brutal Sunni-Shiite sectarian war.

Data compiled separately by the United Nations and the Iraqi ministries of defence, interior and health gave varying tolls but both showed unrest was near its worst since 2008, as the country grapples with what is expected to be a protracted period of government formation following April polls.

According to the UN's mission to Iraq, at least 799 Iraqis were killed in "acts of terrorism" and other violence, while a further 195 died as a result of military operations in the conflict-hit province of Anbar, in western Iraq.

Figures released by Iraqi ministries, meanwhile, put the toll at 938 killed, including 804 civilians, and 1,463 wounded.

"I strongly deplore the sustained level of violence ... that continues rocking the country," UN special envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in a statement.

"I urge the political leaders to work swiftly for the formation of an inclusive government within the constitutionally mandated time frame and focus on a substantive solution to the situation in Anbar."

Iraqi officials blame external factors for the rise in bloodshed, particularly the civil war raging in neighbouring Syria, and insist that wide-ranging operations against militants, particularly in Anbar, are having an impact.

But the bloodletting has continued unabated, while analysts and diplomats insist that the Shiite-led government must do more to reach out to the disaffected Sunni minority in order to undermine support for militancy.

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