Wikileaks Iraq: data journalism maps every death

Data journalism allows us to really interrogate the Wikileaks Iraq war logs release. Here is the statistical breakdown - and data for you to download
Get the data
Get the fullscreen map

Iraq civilian casualties
Wikileaks Iraq: a man holds his wounded daughter outside in August 2006 after being injured in road side bomb explosion. Photograph: Ali Abbas/EPA

UPDATE: an academic who has worked with the data has pointed out some of its limitations - you can read his take here

Data journalism works best when there's a lot of data to work with. Wikileaks' Iraq war logs release has dumped some 391,000 records of the Iraq war into the public arena. We've had them for a few weeks - what have we found out?

This is in a different league to the Wikileaks Afghanistan leak - there's a good case for saying the new release has made the war the most documented in history. Every minor detail is now there for us to analyse and breakdown but one factor stands out: the sheer volume of deaths, most of which are civilians.

Some key findings:

Total deaths

• The database records 109,032 deaths in total for the period
• The database records the following death counts: 66,081 civilians, 23,984 insurgents and 15,196 Iraqi security forces
• The worst place for deaths was Baghdad - 45,497, followed by MND north (which is the region that goes from Baghdad up to Kurdistan) where another 34,210 died. The quietest place was the north east with only 328 deaths

Murders and escalation of force

• 34,814 people were recorded as murdered in 24,840 incidents
• The worst month was December 2006 with 2,566 murders - and 2006 was the worst year with 16,870 murders
• The database records 12,578 escalation of force incidents (where someone is shot driving too fast at a checkpoint, for instance) - and these resulted in 778 recorded deaths

Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)

• There were 65,439 IED explosions over the period - with 31,780 deaths recorded on the database from those alone.
• There were another 44,620 IEDs found and cleared
• The worst month for IED explosions was May 2007 with 2,080 IED explosions

Download the data

The Guardian has decided not to republish the entire database, largely because we can't be sure the summary field doesn't contain confidential details of informants and so on. But, so you have some data to work with, we have provided this spreadsheet. It contains the records of every incident where someone dies, nearly 60,000 in all. We have removed the summary field so it's just the basic data: the military heading, numbers of deaths and the geographic breakdown.

Get the fullscreen version

Google Fusion tables is fantastic for mapping out bulky datasets and they don't come much bulkier than this. We took all these incidents where someone had died and put it on the map above. The fullscreen version is easier to use. A few of the datapoints aren't mapping correctly - but this may be a problem with the data.

You can download it below, plus we've broken down the deaths by cause and year in sortable tables. What can you do with it?

Data summary

Deaths and wounded

Click heading to sort

YEAR
Coalition forces
Iraqi forces
Civilians
Enemy
TOTAL DEATHS
TOTAL WOUNDED, all categories
2004 747 1,031 2,781 5,995 10,554 18,567
2005 856 2,256 5,746 3,594 12,452 24,850
2006 821 4,370 25,178 4,657 35,026 41,164
2007 919 4,718 23,333 6,793 35,763 55,804
2008 282 1,948 6,362 2,635 11,227 23,632
2009 146 873 2,681 310 4,010 12,365
TOTAL 3,771 15,196 66,081 23,984 109,032 176,382

Causes of death

Click heading to sort

Category
Coalition forces
Iraqi forces
Civilians
Insurgents
Accident 428 256 599 22
Ambush 4 93 85 154
Arrest 0 12 20 56
Arson 0 6 114 6
ARTY 0 0 2 41
Assassination 0 183 246 7
Attack 86 1,167 1,627 3,775
Attack Threat 0 0 1 1
Blue-Blue 9 2 3 4
Blue-Green 0 51 4 0
Blue-White 0 0 62 1
Border Ops 0 0 0 2
Breaching 0 0 1 0
Cache Found/Cleared 2 10 28 236
Carjacking 0 5 27 5
Close Air Support 0 0 5 776
Confiscation 0 0 3 57
Cordon/Search 2 43 47 316
Counter Mortar Fire 0 0 0 24
Deliberate Attack 0 3 0 119
Demonstration 1 16 476 2
Detain 0 2 19 87
Direct Fire 482 4,270 4,766 6,807
Direct Fire Threat 0 0 1 0
Elicitation 0 1 0 0
Equipment Failure 4 2 3 0
Escalation of Force 0 22 686 70
Explosive Remnants of War (ERW)/Turn In 0 0 1 0
Green-Blue 5 14 3 0
Green-Green 0 58 17 2
Green-White 0 2 48 0
IED Explosion 2,107 5,990 20,228 3,455
IED False 0 0 3 0
IED Found/Cleared 6 31 90 579
IED Hoax 1 0 2 1
IED Pre-detonation 0 0 3 50
IED Suspected 0 0 0 37
IED Threat 0 0 0 2
Indirect Fire 192 284 2,087 1,040
Indirect Fire Threat 0 0 0 2
Intimidation Threat 0 6 18 1
Kidnapping 0 67 161 18
Kidnapping Threat 0 0 2 0
Looting 0 0 18 3
Medevac 3 1 5 2
Mine Found/Cleared 0 0 2 1
Mine Strike 37 24 30 6
Movement to Contact 1 0 0 77
Murder 9 2,169 32,563 73
Murder Threat 0 0 1 0
Other 194 72 584 437
Other Defensive 2 5 141 116
Other offensive 0 4 18 639
Patrol 0 3 43 61
Police Actions 0 1 14 32
Raid 12 75 86 619
Recon 0 0 0 13
Sabotage 0 2 6 0
SAFIRE 67 4 22 317
SAFIRE Threat 0 0 1 0
Search and Attack 0 0 0 90
Shooting 0 1 8 0
Small Unit Actions 27 13 65 3,129
Smuggling 0 1 5 2
Sniper Ops 86 173 62 364
Staff Estimate 0 2 380 0
Surveillance 0 1 8 61
TCP 0 0 5 25
Theft 0 8 57 14
Tribal Feud 0 14 138 5
UAV 0 0 3 49
Unexploded Ordnance 0 2 15 3
Unknown Explosion 4 24 284 61
Vehicle Interdiction 0 0 4 29
White-Blue 0 0 5 0
White-Green 0 0 0 1
White-White 0 0 20 0
Not known 0 1 0 0
TOTAL 3,771 15,196 66,081 23,984

Download the data


DATA: download details of every death in Iraq (Google Fusion tables, requires Google login)
DATA: download the full sheet (no login)
DATA: download our analysis spreadsheet

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Comments in chronological order (Total 15 comments)

  • This symbol indicates that that person is The Guardian's staffStaff
  • This symbol indicates that that person is a contributorContributor
  • kerin

    22 October 2010 10:01PM

    Is that map actually working? All I see is a few 1 or 2 digit numbers in green boxes, but I've no idea what they represent. Are they years? Keys to a datatable? Road junction numbers?

  • efields

    23 October 2010 12:11AM

    The Google fusion table data seems to have no option to export. So in fact it can't be downloaded. Is there another place to find it?

  • Noskalator

    23 October 2010 5:28AM

    Most civilian deaths for 'murder'? What does murder entail? Murder by troops?

    Interesting to note the number of civilian deaths from IED explosions. Perhaps a review on their usage is needed?

  • DarenB

    23 October 2010 9:43AM

    so you have some data to play with

    Considering the subject, is that the best phrase to use?

  • coolmule

    23 October 2010 11:39AM

    No doubt that this information will provide those outside the 'fog-of-war' with a better understanding of what happed. However, we need to remember that the death-count here of over 100,000 Iraqis is that reported by the Allies i.e. the invaders in this war. The infamous quote "We don't do body counts" by Gen Tommy Franks leading US army said it all.

    The neutral view on the number of people who died (by respected Lancet medical journal) was over 600,000 deaths by Oct-2006 alone. That research is the best we have and tragically, things are not over yet.

    The Guarnaid should make that clear as a footnote to this article.

  • joinedup

    23 October 2010 2:43PM

    I agree with Darren B.
    Similarly "Google Fusion tables is fantastic for mapping out bulky datasets and they don't come much bulkier than this" hardly rings with understanding and empathy, more like abstract data techie excitement.

  • AntonyIndia

    23 October 2010 2:54PM

    31,780 deaths by IEDs, of which 2,107 coalition forces, 3,455 insurgents themselves and the vast majority civilians.
    Maybe extremist leaders world wide busy on Internet recruiting cannon fodder could just for a minute look at these numbers: IEDs are a losers tactic.

  • noKnownPhobia

    23 October 2010 7:28PM

    @ efields

    The Google fusion table data seems to have no option to export. So in fact it can't be downloaded. Is there another place to find it?

    Make your own HTML file

    This works with Firefox with Firefox set as default browser

    Left click spreadsheet field/Select All

    Left click spreadsheet field again/View Source

    In DOM of selection window: left click/Select All

    In DOM of selection window: left click/Copy

    Paste in NotePad (text file)

    Save as “whatever_file_name.html” <=IMPORTANT

    Save type As: select “All Files” <=IMPORTANT

    Open “whatever_file_name.html”

  • amacd2

    23 October 2010 7:50PM

    Gosh, the level of detail and perfect record keeping of the American corporatist Empire almost matches that of the Nazi fascist Empire's detailed record keeping.

    Oh, that's right ---- a corporatist Empire IS a fascist Empire. That's why Benito Mussolini himself said that fascism should really be called corporatism.

    Rumor has it that the chain gun camera video from the earlier Wikileaks release is going to be used in an up-coming FOX video game.

    As Chris Hedges compelling notes in his books, including his newest and incomparable "Death of the Liberal Class", imperialist wars for profit are beyond the pale and can never be justified by supposedly humanitarian rational.

    Alan MacDonald
    Sanford, Maine

  • noKnownPhobia

    23 October 2010 8:31PM

    @amacd2

    Paragraphs 1-3 of your comment are wrong on the following counts-

    Paragraph 1: The corporatist empire(s) is/are multi-national. The US and most other countries with large militaries answer a global "Admiralty Law" The US is just the worst.

    Paragraph 2. As true as it may be, as far as context is concerned, that is an oft quoted misquote. Benito Mussolin never associated the two.

    Paragraph 3. Echoing rumor is just wrong

  • CanuckDriver

    23 October 2010 9:44PM

    This comment has been removed by a moderator. Replies may also be deleted.

  • TaghioffDaniel

    24 October 2010 6:41AM

    The summary is simple: This was a very bad idea, and never should have happened.

    Also, if wiki-leaks can do this, why could none of the mainstream Media outlets manage something like this in all these years?

  • mannuel

    24 October 2010 12:52PM


    Coalition forces Iraqi forces Civilians Insurgents

    direct fire 82 4,270 4,766 6,807

    indirect fire ,107 5,990 20,228 3,455

    Murder 9 2,169 32,563 73

    TOTAL 3,771 15,196 66,081 23,984

    From the table it is seen that the civilian casualities are the highest in all forms of combat operations. Wonder whether the american and british soldiers went there to fight saddam Hussain's army or to kill the Iraqi civilians.It is indeed shameful.

  • bostonpoliticalgeek

    25 October 2010 1:52AM

    I would like to see this Baghdad data overlay onto a similar sized American city. It might be impactful to people to see how many deaths would have occurred in their own neighborhoods. Some readers would find the data points - or deaths - landing on their own addresses.

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