Wed July 09, 2003 07:09 AM ET


LONDON (Reuters) - New information from remote locations of Iraq has pushed up the civilian death toll from the U.S.-led war by 500 in the last month to at least 6,000, an Anglo-American research group said on Wednesday.

The Iraq Body Count's (IBC) latest figures, based on media reports and more than a dozen counting projects from independent investigators in and outside Iraq, put the minimum number of civilians dead at 6,055 and the maximum at 7,706.

"Both the U.S. & the U.K. said they were taking every effort to minimize civilian casualties and talked a lot about smart, precision weapons," IBC researcher John Sloboda told Reuters.

"From that, one could have expected a clean war with very few casualties, but I don't call 5,000 to 7,000 very few. It is clear the coalition claims were political claptrap."

The latest IBC toll has risen by about 500 after information arrived from areas that had not been reached before by outsiders. The group says its statistics are the most comprehensive collation of civilian deaths available.

"If you look at a map of Iraq, there are still a lot of places, that you would imagine allied troops have gone through, where there have been no reports of killings yet, simply because no journalist or researcher has gone there," said Sloboda, a psychology professor from Britain's Keele University.

The IBC, run by British and American academics and peace activists, has chastised London and Washington for not setting up an official investigation into civilian deaths.

"Then there are the deaths by malnutrition and dehydration as a consequence of the war which we haven't even started talking about," Sloboda added.

The United States and Britain have repeatedly stressed their tactics were designed to keep civilian casualties to a minimum.

But they are declining to give estimates.

"We made every effort to reduce civilian casualties by a careful targeting policy," a spokesman for Britain's Ministry of Defense said.