Death count in Iraq has reached a staggering number. Iraq’s Health minister pegged the estimate at 150,000 civilian casualties in the war.

Moderate Sunni Muslims, meanwhile, threatened to stay away from politics and use guns, while the Shiite-dominated government exerted pressure on the United States to unleash the Iraqi army and asserted it could stop violence in six months.

After Democrats dominated both houses of the U.S. Congress and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld resigned from the post, Iraqis seemed disturbed over the uncertainty of the future American policy on the war. Consequently, both sects stand firm on their positions further causing confusion.

Previous estimates of Iraq deaths were pegged at 45,000-50,000 civilian casualties for the almost 44-month-old conflict, as stated by Iraqi institutions and media reports. No official count has ever been disclosed.

Health Minister Ali al-Shemari provided his new estimate of 150,000 casualties to the media during a visit to Vienna, Austria. He explained to The Associated Press that he arrived at the figure by an estimate of 100 bodies per day brought to morgues and hospitals. Using said calculation could equal to more or less 130,000 in total.

“It is an estimate,” al-Shemari said. Sunni insurgents, Wahhabis — Sunni religious extremists — and criminal gangs contributed to the deaths.

Hassan Salem, of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI, said the 150,000 figure included civilians, police and the bodies of people who were kidnapped then killed and found at morgues run by the Health Ministry.

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