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U.N. says Violence Kills Over 1,000 People in Iraq

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 24 2014 (IPS) - The surging violence in Iraq killed more than 1,000 people and left another 1,000 injured within two weeks since the dramatic rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) earlier this month, the United Nations said Tuesday.

“This figure – which should be viewed very much as a minimum – includes a number of verified summary executions and extra-judicial killings of civilians, police, and soldiers who were hors (de) combat,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), using a French term for soldiers who are no longer combatants.

There have been further abductions in Baghdad and the northern provinces, some of which involved killings, the OHCHR said, adding that there has been evidence of summary executions.

The ISIL ousted Iraqi troops and seized Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, earlier this month and has continued to take control of the country’s northern region since. The ISIL, which grew out of al-Qaeda, aims to form an Islamic emirate at the heart of the Middle East.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the violence “at the hands of terrorist groups” including ISIL, saying the mass summary executions by the group are deeply disturbing.

He also warned against “sectarian rhetoric that could further exacerbate the conflict and carry grave implications for the entire region,” the U.N. said.

At least 757 civilians were killed and 599 injured in provinces to the north and east of Baghdad in 17 days since June 5, while an additional 318 lost their lives and 590 were wounded in Baghdad and southern areas, said the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI).

Apart from ISIL’s violence, the UNAMI also said it has received reports about abuses by the government-run Iraqi Security Forces’ (ISF), including executions of at least 41 prisoners.

“We urge the Iraqi authorities to swiftly carry out their obligation to thoroughly investigate these, and any other, reported summary executions and all other violations by their personnel,” the OHCHR said.

The spreading violence has resulted in a critical humanitarian situation in Iraq, the U.N. has said. Around one million Iraqis have been displaced so far this year while there have been reports about children being recruited and used as suicide bombers by the militias, it said.

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