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30,000 dead in Libya's civil war

At least 30,000 people have been killed and 50,000 wounded in Libya's six-month civil war, the interim health minister said, offering a first detailed estimate of the high cost in lives of bringing down Muammar Gaddafi.

There have been rough estimates in the past, but Naji Barakat, the health minister in the new Libyan leadership, said his figures are based, in part, on reporting from hospitals, local officials and former rebel commanders.

Mr Barakat said he will have a complete count in a few weeks time, but that he expects the final figure for dead and wounded to be higher than his current estimates. Libya has a population of just over six million.

At least 4,000 people are still missing, either presumed dead or held prisoner in remaining Gaddafi strongholds, including his hometown of Sirte. Others killed in fighting were hastily buried, and are now being exhumed for identification.

Search teams also continue to find secret graves of detainees killed by retreating Gaddafi forces. Just this week, they dug up more bodies in one area of the Libyan capital Tripoli and two other towns.

Next week, worshippers will be asked to report the dead and missing in their families to the local mosques, in an attempt to get a more detailed figure.

Of the estimated 30,000 dead, about half are believed to have been Gaddafi's fighters. Mr Barakat said he was told by Libya's new military officials that the Khamis Brigade, commanded by Gaddafi's son Khamis and a core force in Gaddafi's army, lost about 9,000 troops.

One of the hardest hit areas was the port city of Misrata, Libya's third largest, where former rebels and Gaddafi regime forces fought for two months, ending with the retreat of badly battered Gaddafi troops.

At least 2,000 former rebel fighters and civilians were killed in Misrata and thousands more were wounded, including 900 who lost limbs, Mr Barakat said, citing new figures from the Misrata local council.

Reporting is incomplete for the western areas of the country that remained under Gaddafi's control until close to the end of the fighting, including the capital of Tripoli, Mr Barakat said.

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