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Iraqi civilian deaths in December fall to lowest level in 2011

The number of civilians killed in violence across Iraq dropped to a year low in December, government figures showed on Sunday, despite bombings that rocked the capital after the pullout of U.S. forces.

Tension rose after the Dec. 18 withdrawal of U.S. troops when Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sought the arrest of the Sunni vice president on charges he ran death squads and also asked parliament to fire the Sunni deputy prime minister.

The December toll of civilians killed in bombings and other attacks was 90, down from 112 in November, according to figures from the Health Ministry.

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Thirty-six police and 29 soldiers were also killed in December, figures from the Interior and Defence Ministries showed, compared with 42 police and 33 soldiers killed in November.

The figures also showed that 99 civilians, 92 policemen and 88 soldiers were wounded in violent incidents last month.

Bombings and killings remain a daily occurrence in Iraq nearly nine years after the U.S.-led invasion, and its army and police, which assumed full responsibility for security after the withdrawal of U.S. troops, are often targets.

The worst attacks occurred on Dec. 22 when a series of explosions in mainly Shi'ite areas across Baghdad killed at least 72 people.

The previous lowest monthly toll of 2011 was in May, when 102 civilians were killed.

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