Iraqi officials are denying reports that as many as 28 people were killed this morning during an attack on Camp Ashraf, the Iraqi settlement of Iranian dissident group People’s Mojahedin Organization.
In a statement, the exiled group says at least 2,500 Iraqi troops, attacked the camp, leaving 28 dead and hundreds injured. The assault was led by General Ghaidan, commander of Iraqi ground forces.
A hospital official in Bagouba, capital of the Diyali region, told Associated Press three people were killed and 13 wounded. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he added that five Iraqi soldiers were among the wounded.
The dissident group’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, has called for the “immediate intervention” of U.S. forces to prevent further attacks on the residents of Camp Ashraf.
General Ghaidan announced that the incursion was ordered after residents spent two days throwing rocks at Iraqi forces and hurling themselves in front of the military vehicles.
Ghaidan said the riot began when military forces were replacing units stationed in the area. Ghaidan denied anyone was killed in this morning’s incident, echoing the statement of Iraqi government spokesman Ali Al-Dabbagh,
“Close to 100 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran attacked our security and military forces,” Al-Dabbagh said. “Our forces did not use their weapons. Everything is calm, and our forces are in the process of moving in and out of the camp.”
He added that the Iraqi government will not tolerate lawbreakers in its territories.
Ghaidan denied anyone was killed in this morning’s incident. A number of images allegedly showing the attack have been posted on YouTube and other sites by the People’s Mojahedin.
Camp Ashraf was previously attacked by Iraqi forces in July 2009. The city is located 100 KM from Baghdad and 80 KM from Iraq’s eastern border with Iran.
Nouri al-Maliki’s government has long been intent on removing the group from Iraqi territory. The People’s Mojahedin Organization settled in Camp Ashraf during the Iran-Iraq War in the 80s, when it fought against the Islamic Republic.
U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who is currently in Iraq, told reporters: “I urge the Iraqi government to show restraint and live up to their commitments to treat Ashraf residents in accordance with Iraqi law and international obligations.”