iraqi-civillians-670
An Iraqi girl in Baghdad in 2006.

BAGHDAD: The number of civilians killed in violence in Iraq rose slightly in April, according to government figures released on Tuesday.

The worst incident occurred on April 19, when more than 20 bombs struck cities and towns across Iraq, killing at least 36 people and wounding more than 150. Al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate claimed the attacks.

Government figures showed 88 civilians were killed in April, up from 78 people in March, a health ministry source said.

Twenty soldiers and 18 policemen were killed, compared to 12 soldiers and 22 policemen the previous month.

Violence has dropped from the height of sectarian fighting in 2006-07, when monthly civilian tolls were regularly around 3,000, but bombings and killings still occur on a daily basis.

The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI)  and Sunni Muslim insurgent groups fighting the Shi'ite-led government say they will not lay down their arms despite the departure of US forces.

Tensions within Iraq's coalition government of Shia, Sunnis and Kurds have climbed since December, when the government sought the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and the dismissal of Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq.

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