x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

52 dead at Iranian dissident camp in Iraq

A UN team has counted 52 bodies in a makeshift morgue at an Iranian dissident camp, most with gunshot wounds and some with their hands tied, two days after violence that it decried as an 'atrocious crime'.

BAGHDAD // A UN team said yesterday it had counted 52 bodies in a makeshift morgue at an Iranian dissident camp, most with gunshot wounds and some with their hands tied, two days after violence that it decried as an "atrocious crime".

The dissident Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (Mek) group blamed the Iraqi army for Sunday's bloodshed, but an adviser to the Iraq prime minister, Nouri Al Maliki, whose government is close to Iran, dismissed the accusation as baseless.

Following a visit to Camp Ashraf on Monday, the UN team said most of the corpses had gunshot wounds to the head and upper body. It said several buildings in the camp were also damaged, including one that was burnt out.

"I call on the Iraqi government to ensure that a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into this atrocious crime is conducted without delay and that the results of the investigation are made public," said Gyorgy Busztin, the acting UN envoy to Iraq.

Before the violence there were about 100 Mek Iranian exiles at Camp Ashraf, which the Iraqi government wants closed down.

The bloodshed, also condemned by Britain and the United States, took place hours after a mortar bomb attack. Two security sources said on Sunday that the army and special forces had opened fire on residents who stormed a post at the entrance to the camp, allegations denied by Ali Al Moussawi, Mr Al Maliki's adviser.

The sources had said at least 19 people were killed. A UN statement at the time had a death toll of 47, while Mek said 52 were killed.

Last year, most of the camp's inhabitants were relocated to a former US military base in northeastern Baghdad known as Camp Liberty, which has come under attack twice this year. The UN is processing them for refugee status abroad.