Baghdad: The Baghdad morgue took in about 16,000 unidentified bodies last year, the bulk of them victims of death squads and other sectarian violence, a source at the morgue told Reuters yesterday.

About 1,350 bodies were received in December, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Iraqi government has banned officials from releasing data on casualty rates.

As throughout the year, between 80 and 85 percent of these were victims of violence.

The morgue data - for Baghdad only - suggest that a figure of 12,320 civilian deaths in "terrorist violence" in 2006, given two weeks ago by Interior Ministry sources, does not include all the victims of the bloodletting in Iraq.

The Interior Ministry statistics exclude violent deaths classed as "criminal".