Clashes as Iran exiles claims 44 dead in Iraq raid

Clashes as Iran exiles claims 44 dead in Iraq raid
Members of the Iraqi security forces clash with protesters during a demonstration in Nasiriyah city, 375 km (233 miles) south of Baghdad, August 31, 2013.

BAGHDAD - Clashes and explosions were reported in a camp housing Iranian exiles northeast of Baghdad Sunday, but Iraqi officials denied allegations they killed 44 of the group's members in an offensive.

The People's Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran (PMOI), about 100 of whose members are living at Camp Ashraf in Diyala province near the Iranian border, also claimed security forces set fire to the group's property in the camp.

Local hospitals reported two Iraqi soldiers were killed and three were wounded, which officials attributed to angry camp residents attacking an army brigade responsible for the camp.

Medics did not, however, report any casualties among Ashraf residents.

The United Nations said it could not confirm any of the varying accounts of Sunday's unrest at the camp.

Earlier this year at least eight people were killed in two mortar attacks on another camp housing the group, which is also known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).

Officials and MEK spokespeople gave wildly differing accounts of the unrest on Sunday and it was not immediately clear what caused the explosions and clashes, or the extent of the casualties.

Iraqi police and medical sources said five mortars hit the camp.

A police colonel said that in the aftermath of the rockets "some angry Ashraf residents came out and attacked the brigade protecting the camp, killing two soldiers and wounding three in clashes".

A doctor at the main hospital in provincial capital Baquba confirmed the toll.

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