( dpa ) - Some 151,000 civilians were killed in violence in Iraq between March 2003 and June 2006, according to figures compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Iraqi government, the WHO said in Geneva Wednesday.
The numbers were the result of a broad-based survey of family health in Iraq, needed by the Iraqi government for further planning, the WHO said.
The estimates published in the New England Journal of Medicine are based on surveys of 9,345 households in around 1,000 Iraqi neighbourhoods and villages.
Experts, however, think that the rough estimate might be flawed and the actual number could lie between 104,000 and 223,000. The number of 151,000 victims is three times as high as the numbers so far calculated from media reports.
However, the number was also four times lower than a household survey carried out in 2006 among a smaller sample of people.
It was extremely difficult to estimate the number of dead in conflicts, and household surveys had to be taken with caution, WHO statistician Mohamed Ali said.
However, as there was a lack of official death lists, household surveys were the best means of getting an overview over the number of victims, he said.
According to the study, violence was the main cause of death for Iraqi adults after March 2003, especially for men aged between 15 and 59.
On average, 128 Iraqis died on a daily basis through violence in the first year after the US invasion of Iraq. The number was 115 in the second year and rose to 126 in the third year.