The Iraqi ministries of Interior and Health released statistics showing that over 80% of the victims of al-Qaeda's suicide operations in 2012 were civilians.
"Al-Qaeda's suicide operations left 98 persons dead including 71 civilians, and 321 wounded including 278 civilians since the beginning of 2012," said Dr. Khamees al-Saad, deputy secretary of the Iraqi Ministry of Health.
Al-Saad said women and children represented 50% of the total number of those killed, with children representing 33% and women 17%.
Maj. Gen. Adel Dahham, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said the new statistics included victims who died in al-Qaeda suicide attacks in Baghdad, Anbar, Ninawa, Babylon, Diyala, Salah al-Din and Karbala provinces.
"These suicide operations targeted popular markets, public places and religious processions," Dahham told Mawtani.
He said during 2012 "a serious decline was recorded in the terrorists' ability to reach sensitive security centres, government institutions, and ministries, which led them to focus their anger on civilians".
"Al-Qaeda is using [mentally ill] individuals and drug addicts for their operations, which indicates al-Qaeda is facing a crisis in recruiting new suicide bombers to their ranks because of their declining support in Iraq," he said.
Dahham said Iraqi security forces prepared a new plan to curb those attacks and thwart them before they occur in order to safeguard Iraqi citizens.
Maj. Gen. Mohammad al-Askeri, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said, "Al-Qaeda suicide bombings, which targeted mosques, religious celebrations, weddings and marketplaces, indicate the organisation is suffering a serious phase of weakness."
"Al-Qaeda terrorists resorted to self-detonation because they found car bombs and explosive charges are costlier than recruiting suicide bombers who are ready to detonate themselves. Also, there is a possibility that the suicide bombers might be uncovered by the security forces if they used car bombs or explosive charges," he said.
Al-Askeri said the Iraqi government increased the reward for providing information on suicide bombers and their recruiters to 100 million Iraqi dinars ($86,000).
Khalid Abdullah al-Alwany, a member of the Iraqi parliament's defence and security committee, said, "It is apparent that in most of al-Qaeda's suicide attacks, based upon tests performed on the remains of the suicide bombers, that the attackers had taken drugs that affect their mental capacity."
Alwany told Mawtani the committee obtained reports showing that al-Qaeda has resorted to kidnapping individuals, handcuffing their hands to cars' steering wheels, and detonating the car bombs by remote control.
Sheikh Faisal al-Essawi, a professor of Islamic Sharia and chairman of the religious affairs committee for the Anbar provincial office, said, "Al-Qaeda's killing of innocent civilians and Iraqis in general is very far from the teachings of the venerated Islam, which prohibits the killing of people without the right to do so."