Wave of Iraq violence kills 460 in April

Violence in Iraq rose sharply in April with 460 people killed, according to an AFP tally, raising fears of a return to the all-out sectarian conflict that plagued the country in past years.

Unrest in April also wounded 1,219 people, according to the figures, which are based on reports from security and medical sources.

Among the dead were 54 police, 53 soldiers, 14 Sahwa anti-Al-Qaeda militiamen, and two members of the Kurdish security forces.

The wounded included 171 police, 76 soldiers, eight Sahwa fighters and five Kurdish security forces members.

The majority of the remainder of those killed and wounded in April were civilians, although the figures also include some gunmen who were killed in fighting with security forces.

In March, 271 people were killed and 906 wounded in violence, though that number only included security forces and civilians.

Most of the deaths came during a wave of unrest that began on April 23 when security forces moved on Sunni anti-government protesters near the northern Sunni Arab town of Hawijah, killing 53 people.

Dozens more were killed in subsequent violence, bringing the death toll from seven days of unrest to more than 240 on Monday.

The protesters had called for the resignation of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, and railed against authorities for allegedly targeting their community with wrongful detentions and accusations of involvement in terrorism.

Violence in Iraq has fallen from its peak during the sectarian conflict in 2006 and 2007, when death tolls of over 1,000 a month were reported.

Iraqis were killed in 29 of the 30 days in April, and more than 200 people have been killed in unrest each month so far this year.