LONDON: As many as 269,000 people died during the war leading to the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, nearly five times more than the previously estimated figure, a new study says.
The study, titled 'Fifty years of violent war deaths from Vietnam to Bosnia: analysis of data from the world health survey programme', published in the British Medical Journal said "war causes more deaths than previously estimated, and there is no evidence to support a recent decline in war deaths".
Earlier estimates of casualties during the Bangladesh war were in the region of 58,000, the study noted.
The objective of the survey was to provide an accurate estimate of deaths in wars. The study analysed estimated deaths from war injuries in 13 countries over 50 years, including Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Between 1975 and 2002, the study says that the ongoing ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka between the government and Tamil Tigers accounted for the death of 215,000 people, while earlier estimates put the figure at around 61,000.
"Accurate estimates of war mortality are crucial for planning on several different levels. Political, military, and public health leaders must have credible information on the number of deaths to plan properly before, during, and after wars.
"The public must also be aware of the human cost of wars. Information on war deaths is useful in the investigation of the scope of war crimes, as in the Nuremburg Trials after the second world war or the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia," the study says.