Tags: Iraq | iraq | iran | attack

Clashes in Iranian Dissident Camp in Iraq Kill 15

Sunday, 01 Sep 2013 08:14 AM

BAGHDAD  — At least 15 people were killed in clashes following a mortar attack on an Iranian dissident camp north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Sunday, two security sources said.

It was not immediately clear who had fired the mortars, and those who died were killed in later confrontations between security forces and camp residents, the sources said.

One of the sources said Iraqi security forces had opened fire on a crowd which had stormed a post at the entrance to Camp Ashraf, a site that Iraq's government wants closed down. About 50 people were wounded, the source said.

The Mujahadin-e-Khalq (MEK) dissident group said 44 of its roughly 100 members in the camp had been killed by Iraqi security forces. Some of them were machine-gunned with their hands tied behind their backs, MEK said in an emailed statement.

MEK, which the US State Department removed from its list of terrorist organizations last year, wants Iran's clerical leaders overthrown, and fought with former Iraqi Sunni Muslim leader Saddam Hussein's forces in the 1980s Iran-Iraq war.

It has been trying to recast itself as an Iranian opposition force but is no longer welcome in Iraq under the Shi'ite Muslim-led government that came to power after US-led forces invaded and toppled Saddam in 2003.

Mortar attacks on a newer MEK camp in a former military compound in western Baghdad, where authorities had relocated most Camp Ashraf MEK members, took place in February and June. At the time, MEK blamed Iran's Quds force — an elite unit of the Revolutionary Guards with a special focus on foreign operations.

The United Nations in Iraq strongly condemned Sunday's "tragic events," without giving details on what had happened.

"The priority for the Iraqi government is to provide immediate medical assistance to the injured and to ensure their security and safety against any violence from any side," it said in a statement.

MEK, also known as the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran, led a guerrilla campaign against the U.S.-backed Iranian Shah during the 1970s that included attacks on US targets.

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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