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Bomb kills 12 as war-related deaths near 500,000 in Iraq

People carry a wounded man at the scene of a car bomb after it exploded as worshippers were leaving a Sunni mosque in Kirkuk/AFP

People carry a wounded man at the scene of a car bomb after it exploded as worshippers were leaving a Sunni mosque in Kirkuk/AFP

KIRKUK, Oct 16 – A bomb ripped through a crowd of worshippers at a Sunni mosque in Iraq, killing 12 people as a study put the death toll in the war torn country at nearly half a million since the US led 2003 invasion.

Three children, a policeman and an army officer were among the dead from the blast in the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday, which also wounded 26 people, police and a doctor said.

The bomb exploded as worshippers left the mosque after marking the start of the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday.

Bodies, their clothes covered in blood, were placed in the back of a police pickup truck to be taken away, an AFP journalist reported.

Angry and grieving people railed against those behind the attack, shouting: “God take revenge on those who are evil!”

Worshipper Khalaf al-Obaidi said he narrowly avoided being caught the blast after he went to greet one of his brothers inside the mosque instead of leaving.

“You look and you see your friend or your brother or your relatives (on the ground). Even an infidel would not do this,” he said. “God willing, there will be security and safety for this country and its poor people.”

Hours after the fatal blast, a study by university researchers the US, Canada and Baghdad said that nearly half a million people have died from war related causes in Iraq since the US led invasion a decade ago.

That figure is far higher than the nearly 115,000 violent civilian deaths reported by the British based group Iraq Body Count, which bases its tally on media reports, hospital and morgue records, and official and non governmental accounts.

The new study, published in the US and conducted in cooperation with the Iraqi Ministry of Health, covers not only violent deaths but other avoidable deaths linked to the invasion, insurgencies and subsequent social breakdown.

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It differs from some previous counts by spanning a longer period of time and by using randomised surveys of households across Iraq to project a nationwide death toll from 2003 to mid-2011.

Violence caused most of the deaths, but about a third were indirectly linked to the war, and these deaths have been left out of previous counts, said lead author Amy Hagopian, a public health researcher at the University of Washington.

Those included situations when a pregnant woman encountered difficult labour but could not leave the house due to fighting, or when a person drank contaminated water, or when a patient could not get treated at a hospital because staff was overwhelmed with war casualties.

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