Outcry over Iranian deaths in Iraq

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Outcry over Iranian deaths in Iraq

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There has been an international outcry after bloodshed at an exiled Iranian opposition community based in Iraq.

The People’s Mujahideen of Iran claims 33 of its number were killed by Iraqi forces who fired indiscriminately on defenceless people in Camp Ashraf about 65 kilometres north east of Baghdad.

An Iraqi defence ministry spokesman said only three died, and the troops were reacting to what he called inappropriate behaviour, attacks and provocation. He said there was no gunfire.

The PMOI, which opposes the Shi’ite leadership in Tehran, was given shelter in Camp Ashraf by the former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the 1980s during the Iran Iraq war.

But the current Iraqi government has close ties with Iran, and the presence of the 3,500 people there has become an embarrassment.

The US blamed Baghdad for the bloodshed and called for restraint from Iraqi officials.

The European Union declared itself “deeply disturbed” by the reports from the camp.

And Amnesty International claimed that the Iraqis have made it difficult for the residents to receive medical treatment.

Iraq said it could no longer tolerate a terrorist organisation that harms relations with neighbours.