Rupert Colville

The UN has confirmed that at least 34 people were killed last Saturday in the attack on Camp Ashraf, the Iraqi settlement inhabited by a dissident Iranian group.

According to Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN Human Rights High Commission, most of the the victims, which included women, were shot, AFP reports. Colville said dozens were also wounded in the incident.

The UN Human Rights Spokesman stated that only three of the victims were killed in a collision with military vehicles.

Ali Ghaidan, the commander of Iraqi Ground Forces, had reported that only three people were killed in the incident, when they threw themselves in front of military vehicles.

AFP quoted Ali al-Dabbagh, Iraqi government spokesman saying: “Our security forces believe that the dead were killed by their own guards because they were trying to escape. They had already committed similar acts in the past."

Commander Ghaidan had claimed it was camp residents who instigated the incident by throwing rocks at the military and hurling themselves in front of their vehicles.

Camp Ashraf is home to more than 3,000 men, women and children connected to the Iranian dissident group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran. The group has opposed the Islamic Republic since the early days of the clerical regime’s founding, and Saddam Hussein established the settlement for them in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq War.

In 2003, the camp residents were disarmed by the U.S. following the invasion of Iraq. Control of the camp was relinquished to Iraqi authorities in 2009, and since then the Iraqi government has pressed to have the Iranian exiles removed from its territory.

The Iraqi government announced that camp residents must leave Iraq by the end of the year. Iran welcomed the announcement, and yesterday the Iranian ambassador to Iraq said camp residents with no outstanding charges are free to return to Iran or obtain an Iranian travel document to go to their country of choice.

The U.S. and the EU have condemned the attack on Camp Ashraf. The PMOI is on the U.S. government’s terrorist list; however, the U.S. Senate foreign affairs committee chairman, Jonh Kerry has said the U.S. should help find permanent homes for the camp residents.