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Iraq Says Civilian Casualties Soared Last Month


Iraqi officials say more than 1,800 civilians were killed last month, a 40 percent increase from October.

Last week, the United Nations gave a higher toll for civilians killed in October, but both sets of numbers show increasing civilian casualties.

In the latest violence, Iraqi forces, backed by U.S. helicopters, clashed with Sunni insurgents Friday in the Fadhil area of Baghdad. Iraqi officials say one Iraqi soldier and at least two other people were killed.

Iraqi security officials also say car bomb blasts and other attacks killed at least six people in Baghdad.

Separately, the U.S. military says coalition forces killed two insurgents and detained 27 suspects in multiple raids targeting al-Qaida terrorists in and around the Iraqi capital.

In northern Iraq, a suicide bomb attack against a U.S. convoy killed two civilians in Kirkuk, while officials say at least 14 Shi'ite Kurds were killed in Sinjar, near the Syrian border.

Officials blamed the killings in Sinjar on a Arab Sunni tribe.

On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraqi forces will be ready to take over security responsibility from the U.S.-led coalition in June of next year.

Mr. Maliki made the remark after talks with President Bush in Amman, Jordan.

In other news, Italy pulled its last troops out of Iraq Friday. Italy already had handed over security responsibilities to Iraqi forces in the southern province Dhi Qar in September.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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