Sat, Dec 28, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Iranian exiles say camp bombed near Baghdad

PERSECUTED OPPOSITION?The National Council of Resistance of Iran said that it was attacked near Baghdad airport while waiting to be transferred out of the country

AFP, BAGHDAD

Rockets struck near Baghdad airport on Thursday in what an exiled Iranian opposition group said was an attack on their camp that left three dead and about 50 wounded.

Nasser Bandar, the head of Iraq’s civil aviation authority, said three rockets hit near a military site in the airport area, but that information on any casualties was not immediately available.

He said flights were not interrupted by the attack, “which was outside the limits of the civil airport.”

Members of an Iranian opposition group who are based near the airport while waiting to be transferred out of Iraq said that they were the target.

Iran’s exiled opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said in a statement on its Web site that “dozens of missiles” were fired on Camp Liberty.

“As of midnight local time, three residents, killed when dozens of missiles hit Camp Liberty, have been identified,” the statement said.

The US condemned the attack “in the strongest terms,” US Department of State spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement, adding that Washington had been coordinating with the UN and Iraqi officials “to ensure swift and immediate treatment to the wounded.”

Washington called on the Iraqi government “to take additional measures to secure the camp against further violence, including by immediately installing additional protective barriers, such as bunkers and T-walls,” Psaki said.

The former US military base is home to about 3,000 members of Iran’s main opposition group, the People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran.

The organization was founded in the 1960s to oppose the shah of Iran and later the country’s clerical rulers.

The group set up camp in Iraq during former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s war with Iran in the 1980s, but was disarmed after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 toppled Hussein, and today’s Shiite-majority and Iran-friendly government in Baghdad is eager to see it move elsewhere.

In September, 52 of its members were killed at their main former Camp Ashraf in Diyala Province.

Authorities blamed infighting within the organization for the deaths while the opposition group claimed Iraqi forces entered the camp, killed 52 of its members and set fire to the group’s property and goods.

UN rights experts said earlier this month those killed had been shot, many of them with their hands tied behind their backs.

Most of the camp’s residents had already been relocated to Camp Liberty at the time of the attack.

Scores of the organization’s members have been killed in more than a dozen attacks on their camps since US troops withdrew from Iraq at the end of 2011.

Violence in Iraq has reached a level not seen since 2008, when the country was just emerging from a brutal sectarian conflict.

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