August death toll shows months-long surge in Iraq unrest

BAGHDAD - Attacks in Iraq showed no signs of respite Sunday as the UN reported 800 people died in violence last month, amid fears the country is edging back towards all-out war.

The latest figures, though lower than the previous month, confirm a months-long surge in unrest compared to previous years that the authorities have sought to combat with wide-ranging security operations targeting militants.

Analysts and diplomats, however, have urged the government to implement broad-reaching reforms in order to placate anger in the Sunni Muslim community, which they say is the root cause of the violence.

Violence continued to hit Iraq on Sunday, with six people killed in attacks north of Baghdad, including a car bomb targeting a Shiite Muslim mosque in an ethnically-diverse town, officials said.

Two people were killed and 16 wounded by the car bomb against the Imam Ali mosque in the town of Tuz Khurmatu, while three others died in a bombing in the predominantly-Shiite town of Dujail.

The northern province of Nineveh also suffered attacks, with a gunman killed in clashes with the Iraqi army and two policemen wounded by a bomb.

The UN's mission to Iraq, meanwhile, said 804 people were killed and 2,030 wounded as a result of violence in August, a decline from July's figure of 1,057 dead, but still one of the highest monthly death tolls this year.

"The impact of violence on civilians remains disturbingly high, with almost 5,000 civilians killed and 12,000 injured since the beginning of 2013," said the UN's deputy special envoy to Baghdad Jacqueline Badcock.

According to the UN's figures, violence was worse in Baghdad, but the predominantly-Sunni provinces of Salaheddin, Nineveh, Diyala and Anbar also suffered high levels of violence.

Figures compiled by AFP put the toll for August at 693 dead and 1,768 wounded.