Nearly half of all Iraqis who died in October perished in a single coordinated attack against government offices in Baghdad, AP figures revealed Monday.
Of the 364 Iraqis killed over the past month, according to The Associated Press count, 155 died in two nearly simultaneous bombs targeting government buildings Oct. 25 in downtown Baghdad — the worst coordinated attack in more than two years.
The impact of the devastating bombing, which occurred in one of the most protected parts of the capital, continues to be felt as the government struggles to convince Iraqis it can protect them.
The government blamed an alliance of al-Qaida in Iraq and members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party for similar bombings in August of the Justice and Finance ministries that killed about 100 people and has called for an international investigation, particular with regard to the role of neighboring Syria.
In a nod toward Iraqi concerns, special U.N. envoy Oscar Fernandez-Taranco met Monday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and senior government officials as part of "preliminary consultations on the incidents surrounding" the Aug. 19 and Oct. 25 blasts.
Fernandez-Taranco said Monday he had come to Baghdad to "listen to the government of Iraq's concerns" over security and sovereignty issues.
The U.N.'s decision to send the special envoy to Baghdad came before the October attacks.
Many killings go unreported, uncounted
April was the deadliest month in Iraq with 451 killed, according to the AP count followed by June with 448 and August with 425 Iraqis killed.
The AP began tracking war-related violence in Iraq in May 2005. The tally includes civilian, Iraqi military and Iraqi police deaths each day as reported by police, hospital officials, morgue workers and verifiable witness accounts. Insurgent deaths are not included.
The numbers are considered a minimum. The actual number of those killed is likely higher as many killings go unreported or uncounted.
The August and October bombings have infuriated Iraqis, who question how the bombers could have driven their deadly cargo undetected through the multiple checkpoints that dot Baghdad.
Al-Maliki's government, facing a January election, has been under intense pressure to show that the Iraqi military and police are able to handle security as U.S. troops slowly withdraw from the country.
Amid the ongoing violence, Iraqi lawmakers have been struggling to agree on a new election law that would enable the parliamentary contests to be held Jan. 16. A key stumbling block has been how to carry out voting in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, a city claimed by both Arabs and Kurds.
On Sunday, the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the president of Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region on the phone, urging him to help pass the crucial legislation, said Saad Al-Barzanji, a lawmaker of the Kurdistan coalition.