Six killed in attack on Iranian refugees in Iraq

BAGHDAD — Rockets and mortar rounds struck a refugee camp for Iranian exiles next to Baghdad’s international airport before dawn Saturday, killing six people and wounding about 40, police and UN officials said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the ­attack. He urged Iraqi officials to investigate and bring the ­attackers to justice, noting that the government is responsible for the safety of the camp residents.

The government said it launched an investigation, but that there was little it could do to shield the camp, which is home to about 3,100 people, from rocket attacks. It asked the international community to speed up the resettlement of the refugees.


The camp houses members of Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, or MEK, the militant wing of a Paris-based Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. Iraq’s Shi’ite-led pro-Iranian government considers MEK a terrorist group and is eager to have it out of the country.

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The refugee camp, located in a former American military base known as Camp Liberty, is meant to be a temporary way station while the United Nations works to find host countries for the refugees. They are unlikely to return to Iran because of their opposition to the regime.

Camp spokesman Shahriar Kia said 35 rockets and mortar rounds struck the camp. He said more than 100 people were hurt, while the UN and police put the number at about 40.

Two police officials confirmed that six people were killed in Saturday’s attack and said more than 40 were hurt, including three Iraqi policemen. They spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to share information with the media.

Kia, the camp spokesman, alleged that Iraqi authorities refused to let the wounded be taken to area hospitals. Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Moussawi denied the claim.


The UN envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, said about 40 people who were wounded were taken to hospitals shortly after the attack. Kobler said five people died at the camp and that a sixth died in a hospital.

Before being moved to the Baghdad area camp, members of the MEK lived in another camp, called Ashraf, in northeastern Iraq. Camp Ashraf was twice raided by Iraqi security forces trying to impose control, leaving more than three dozen people dead.

Iraq’s government says MEK members are living in Iraq illegally.

‘‘We call on the international community to expedite the procedures . . . to find countries for them as quickly as possible,’’ Moussawi, the government spokesman, said Saturday.