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Report: Congo Death Toll Lower Than Estimated

A research group says analysts may have grossly overestimated the death toll from the Democratic Republic of Congo's long-running conflict.

The Human Security Report Project said Wednesday that the figure of 5.4 million deaths, widely used by media and international organizations, is questionable because of the methods used to tally the number.

The death toll was calculated by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a private relief agency. The new report says the IRC used too low of a baseline mortality rate to determine the figure.

It says when a proper baseline mortality rate is used, and some other errors are corrected, the number of so-called excess deaths drops to about 2.8 million.

The IRC says it stands by its estimate.

The group says conflict epidemiology is an inexact science, and that the actual death toll could be as low as 3 million or as high as 7.6 million.

Congo has endured more than a decade of bloody conflict. A five-year civil war that began in 1998 drew in five neighboring nations. Since then, the country's east has been the site of numerous battles involving the army, Rwandan Hutu rebels, Ugandan rebels, and various militia groups.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.