BAGHDAD — More than 14,000 people have disappeared in Iraq since 2003, an official said on Monday, revealing for the first time the numbers who have gone missing in the violent aftermath of the US-led invasion.
"We have registered the names of 14,025 people who have gone missing since 2003," Arkan Kamel, an official at the human rights ministry, told a news conference in Baghdad.
"Until now, we have only found seven from the registered names at the morgues," he added.
Kamel is on a committee that officials said will start accepting requests from families who wish to enquire about missing relatives. Officials said the process would remain open for 15 days.
The invasion unleashed a violent Al-Qaeda insurgency and sectarian Shiite-Sunni violence, which peaked in 2006 and 2007, when tens of thousands of people were killed.
Random violence and kidnappings were also rampant. The number of violent incidents has plunged since then, but bombings and abductions are still common.
"Missing persons are those who disappeared during war operations, explosions and terrorism attacks," said Farouk al-Araji, who heads the military section at the prime minister's office.
"The committee will collect information about the missing to answer all questions about them," he told reporters.
Among those whose fate remains unknown is Salah Jali, an administrator with Agence France-Presse who has been missing since April 2006.
The committee comprises members of the Judicial Council and the ministries of justice, interior, human rights, national security and intelligence.