Shootings in Baghdad reach epidemic proportions
Statistics that have just been published reveal that 242 people have died in Baghdad in just over three weeks - almost all from bullet wounds.
The news comes after a warning at the beginning of the month from a leading christian-based charity, about the availability of weapons.
World Vision called for the clean-up of abandoned weapons in Iraq after its relief workers inside the country found several children wounded by discarded ammunition.
But deaths from bullet wounds now seem to be reaching epidemic proportions.
An 18-year-old girl was recently shot by her brother, who had apparently been given a weapon by his arms-dealing father. She later died in hospital.
A six-year-old boy ñ according to a doctor who treated him ñ was also hit by a bullet while standing in front of his house.
Dr Fa'ak Amin Bakr, director of the city mortuary, says 242 people have died in the past 25 days, of whom more than nine out of 10 had been shot.
He says that before the invasion, Baghdad had an average of one death a day caused by gunshot wounds.
Battles between looters and score-settling from the Saddam years now seem to have taken hold, fuelled by a security vacuum that owes much to a decision by Donald Rumsfeld, the American Defence Secretary, to invade and occupy Iraq with minimum troop numbers ñ two divisions short, say well- informed sources within the Allies' reconstruction team.
They are also see as the by-product of the failure of the Allies to coax the Baghdad police to return to work in sufficient numbers. Most of the Iraqi officers who have returned have yet to come out of their police stations.
Homicide figures are also going up. The 124 who died from bullet wounds in the past 10 days is a rise of 60 per cent on the previous 10-day period.