Iran exile camp in Iraq ‘unsafe’ after 52 killed

Iran exile camp in Iraq ‘unsafe’ after 52 killed

BAGHDAD - The Associated Press
The United Nations mission to Iraq said a camp north of Baghdad where 52 Iranian dissidents were killed this week is unsafe and urged Iraqi officials to do more to protect dozens of remaining residents.

The statement Sept.3 followed a visit by U.N. officials to Camp Ashraf the previous day. It said members of the delegation saw the bodies of 52 victims with apparent gunshot wounds, confirming death tolls provided by backers of the exiles and an Iraqi official.

Iraq denies charges

Before the killings, Camp Ashraf had been home to about 100 followers of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), an Iranian dissident group that opposes Tehran’s clerical regime. The MEK blames Iraqi security forces for the killings. Iraq denies that, and some Iraqi officials say there was an internal camp dispute.

A senior Iraqi police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Agence France-Presse that the deaths appeared to be caused by infighting, and said investigators found a “huge amount of TNT and explosive materiel inside cars, houses and heavy machinery.”

Iraqi officials insist that no soldiers entered Ashraf, and that explosions were triggered by mortar fire or the detonation of a barrel of oil or gas.

Around 3,000 members of the group were moved from Ashraf last year to Camp Liberty, on a former U.S. military base on the outskirts of Baghdad, but about 100 stayed on at the old camp to deal with remaining property and goods.