Violence has claimed the lives of 799 Iraqis in May, the highest monthly death toll so far this year, the United Nations says, underlining the daunting challenges the government faces as it struggles to contain a surge in sectarian violence.
The figures issued by the UN mission to Iraq, known as UNAMI, put last month’s civilian death toll at 603, with 196 security forces killed.
UNAMI added that 1409 Iraqis, including 1108 civilians, were wounded.
The previous month’s death toll stood at 750, making April the second deadliest month of the year.
The worst-hit city was the capital Baghdad, with 315 people killed.
The northern province of Nineveh came in second with 113, followed by nearby Salahuddin province with 94.
The figures exclude deaths in embattled Anbar province, where militants have controlled parts of the provincial capital Ramadi and nearby Fallujah since December.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a militant group that also operates in neighbouring Syria, has intensified its attacks across Iraq as political rivals work to form a new government following parliamentary elections on April 30.
Shi’ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s bloc emerged as the biggest winner, securing 92 seats in the 328-member parliament, but it failed to gain the majority needed to govern alone.
“I strongly deplore the sustained level of violence and terrorist acts that continues rocking the country,” the UN Special Representative in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said in the statement.
“I urge the political leaders to work swiftly for the formation of an inclusive government within the constitutionally mandated time frame and focus on a substantive solution to the situation in Anbar,” he added.
Last year the death toll climbed to its highest levels since the worst of the sectarian strife in 2006 and 2007, when the country was on the brink of civil war.
The UN says 8868 people were killed in 2013.
The 2011 withdrawal of US forces, which had for eight years often acted as a buffer between Shi’ites and Sunnis, is thought to have contributed to the rise in violence, in addition to the use of deadly force by the Shi’ite-led security forces against Sunni protesters.