Grim Business Is Booming at Baghdad Morgue

Unlike other Baghdad businesses, the city's morgue has never been busier.

Last month nearly 1,400 bodies were brought to the facility, according to the morgue director. It was the highest number since the start of the war more than three years ago.

The meteoric rise in deaths highlights the growing violence and danger Baghdad residents endure and the trigger-happy environment that prevails.

Booming Business

The 1,398 bodies that crammed the morgue in May represents an increase of 70 percent compared with the monthly average of 300 in 2002. In April the Baghdad morgue received 1,091 murder victims.

The actual total number of deaths in the Iraqi capital is even higher, however, because the morgue doesn't perform autopsies on victims of suicide attacks or bombings.

About 600 bodies on average arrived there monthly in 2003, according to morgue data obtained by ABC News.

Another Bloody Day

Despite the new Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's vow to rein in insurgent and sectarian violence, daily life has remained extremely dangerous.

Today alone, gunmen shot dead Thoaban Abdul Kathim, head of the local council of Baghdad's western Al-Jihad district, along with an aide and a driver as they headed to their office.

A man and his wife were also gunned down in the Furat district of Baghdad. North of the city, police found nine severed heads in cardboard crates, the second such find in the last few days in the province.

A car bomb exploded near a tent where a funeral reception was under way, killing five people and wounding 12 others in southwestern Baghdad, police sources said.

Three mortars also landed near a hospital in the center of the city but there were no reported casualties.