UN condemns attack on Iranian dissident group

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Associated Press

Posted on December 27, 2013 at 7:02 AM

Updated Friday, Dec 27 at 12:31 PM

BAGHDAD (AP) — The United Nations on Friday condemned a rocket attack on a camp housing an Iranian exile group near Baghdad, calling on Iraqi government to protect the camp and investigate the incident.

On Thursday night, barrage of rockets were fired on Camp Liberty, home to members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, the militant wing of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a Paris-based group opposed to Iran's cleric-led government. The group said three residents were killed and more than 50 wounded. Iraqi officials said the only casualties were two people wounded.

An Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militia leader claimed responsibility for previous rocket attacks against the camp, threatening more until the MEK leaves. At least 10 people in the camp have been killed by rocket fire this year, according to the MEK.

In a statement, the U.N. envoy to Iraq Nickolay Mladenov said Thursday's barrage killed and wounded a number of residents, but he did not specify how many.

"This is another stark reminder of the increasing violence in Iraq," Mladenov said. "The responsibility for protecting the residents of the Camp falls on the Government of Iraq... This latest incident must be fully investigated by the authorities and those responsible brought to justice," he added.

The dissident group opposes Iran's clerical regime and has carried out assassinations and bombings in Iran. It joined forces with Saddam Hussein's forces during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, and several thousand of its members were given sanctuary in Iraq. It renounced violence in 2001, and was removed from the U.S. terrorism list last year.

Iraq's current Shiite-led government, which has strong ties with neighboring Shiite powerhouse Iran, considers the MEK's presence in Iraq illegal and is eager to get rid of them. The refugee camp, located in a former American military base, is home to about 3,100 people and meant to be a temporary way station while the U.N. works to find host countries for the refugees. They are unlikely to return to Iran because of their opposition to the regime.

A total of 162 MEK members have been resettled abroad so far, mostly in Albania.

Mladenov also called one the "international community to urgently intensify its efforts to find resettlement opportunities as this is the ultimate guarantee of the security and safety," of MEK members.

Violence around Iraq on Friday left six people dead, security and hospital officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press. A roadside bomb hit a patrol by anti-al-Qaida Sunni Arab fighters in the Radwaniya region southwest of Baghdad, killing two and wounding four people. Gunmen opened fire on worshippers at a mosque in Ghazaliya, west of Baghdad, killing two people. In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, gunmen attacked a Sunni mosque, killing a cleric, while a soldier was killed by a bomb planted on his car.

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AP correspondent Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghadad contributed to this report.

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