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The killing of doctors in Iraq must stop

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 13 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4467
  1. Nisreen A Alwan, clinical research fellow and specialist registrar in public health, University of Leeds and graduate of Baghdad Medical School, 1998
  1. n.alwan{at}

On 29 March 2011 Professor Mohammed Alwan, dean of Al-Mustansiriya Medical School in Baghdad and my uncle, was assassinated. A bomb was planted in his car and exploded as he got in after leaving his medical practice. He was a distinguished academic and surgeon who was respected by his students, and he was a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Within a week, another clinical academic from the same institution—Dr Zaid Abdul Munim, head of research at the molecular department—was killed with a similar technique.

These are not isolated incidents. Assassinations and kidnapping of Iraqi doctors, academics, and scientists are now part of everyday life in Iraq, particularly in Baghdad. This phenomenon started after the 2003 US led invasion of the country. One study estimated the combined rate of violent event (death, kidnapping, and threats) among specialist doctors in Iraq in 2004-7 to …

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