Violence has broken out at a camp for Iranian dissidents in Iraq, with dozens of camp residents reportedly killed, the BBC reports. The violence took place on Sunday hours after a mortar bomb attack on Camp Ashraf, which the dissident group, the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (M.E.K.), blamed on the Iraqi army, says Reuters. The group said that at least 52 of its members had been killed by Iraqi forces while the U.N. put the figure at 47. Iraq has denied claims that soldiers entered the camp. An advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said reports that security forces had fired on residents of the camp were baseless and that an investigation into the events had been ordered, reports Reuters.
Camp Ashraf, located just northeast of Baghdad, is home to under 100 members of the M.E.K., which opposes Iran’s clerical regime and fought with former Iraqi Sunni Muslim leader Saddam Hussein’s forces in the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, says Reuters. However, the group is no longer welcome in Iraq under the current Shi’a-led government and Iraqi authorities have in recent years sought to dismantle the camp and eject its members, reports the BBC.
In a statement, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for an end to the violence and the re-establishment of security in the camp. “The United Nations deplores the tragic events at Camp Ashraf today that have reportedly left 47 killed,” he said, adding that Baghdad should “promptly investigate the incident and disclose the findings.”