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Study: Suicide bomb attacks kill more than 12,000 Iraqis

By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
An Iraqi soldier inspects the scene of a bomb blast in the north Baghdad district of Sadr City on May 22, 2011.
An Iraqi soldier inspects the scene of a bomb blast in the north Baghdad district of Sadr City on May 22, 2011.
  • NEW: Suicide bomb attacks continue in Iraq, while no U.S. fatalities reported in August
  • NEW: The study finds 12,284 Iraqi civilians are killed by suicide bombers from 2003-2010
  • The Iraqis killed in suicide attacks account for 11% of the war's civilian fatalities
  • Suicide bombers also kill 200 coalition troops, including 176 Americans, the study says
  • Iraq
  • Iraq War
  • Suicide Attacks

(CNN) -- Suicide bombers are responsible for killing more than 12,000 Iraqi civilians and wounding more than 30,000 since the war began, according to study released by the British medical journal Lancet.

The study found that 1,003 documented suicide bombings accounted for 12,284 of 108,624 Iraqi civilian deaths, 11% of those killed between March 20, 2003, and December 31, 2010.

It also found such attacks accounted for 30,644 -- or 26% -- of the 117,165 documented cases of Iraqi civilians wounded within the same period.

"Suicide bombers in Iraq use suicide bombs strategically as cost-effective, precise, highly destructive weapons," said the study, which was published Saturday.

"Our findings suggest that the Iraqi civilian population suffers a substantial public health burden because it is a primary chosen target of suicide bombers and those who deploy them."

The study analyzed and compared suicide bomb casualties using data compiled by Iraq Body Count, an independent public database that documents violent Iraqi deaths using hospital, morgue, nongovernmental organizations and official figures as well as media reports.

"Certainly, our findings for documented casualties do not represent total deaths or injuries, because not every death or injury is reported, or linked to a suicide bombing as a cause," the study said.

Getting an accurate picture of the Iraq war toll is difficult at best.

The 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein saw the collapse of Iraq's government, including the agencies responsible for documenting deaths. Additionally, insurgent violence made hand counts by health care workers and nongovernment organizations impossible.

Iraq Body Count has been criticized by a number of people, including those who say its data is biased, undercounted or overcounted. Proponents of the organization's data, which is published at, say it is the most reliable tally of Iraqi deaths.

The Lancet also faced criticism for publishing a study in 2006 that found 600,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed during the war. The authors' findings were widely dismissed.

The latest study, which was written by Madelyn Hsiao-Rei Hicks of King's College of London, also documented the number of U.S.-led coalition forces killed in suicide bomb attacks.

During the same period from 2003 to 2010, 79 documented suicide bomb attacks were responsible for the deaths of 200 coalition troops, the study found.

Of those troops killed, 176 were American, it said.

The U.S. military said no American troops were killed in Iraq in August, marking the first month without a military casualty since the invasion.

But for Iraqis, August was one of the more deadly months of the year. On August 15, the country was struck by a barrage of suicide bombings, car bombs and gunfights that left 84 people dead and 200 wounded.

Two weeks later, at least 28 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a Sunni mosque in western Baghdad, officials said.