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Rockets hit Iran dissident camp in Iraq: officials

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, December 28, 2011 17:57 EDT
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BAQUBA, Iraq — Multiple rockets over the past 24 hours hit a camp in Iraq housing Iranian exiles, officials and the group based there said on Wednesday, after Iraq and the UN signed a pact to resettle residents.

The latest strikes, the third in four days, occurred at about 8:15 pm (1715 GMT) on Wednesday, according to an official at the Iraqi security command centre in Diyala provincial capital Baquba.

“Four mortars fell on Camp Ashraf at around 8:15 pm from unknown sources,” the official said. It was not immediately clear if they caused casualties.

On Tuesday evening, at least one rocket hit the camp, the official and a spokesman for the camp said.

An ambulance was sent to the camp, home to 3,400 members of the People’s Mujahedeen, after that attack but returned carrying no victims.

Shahriar Kia, a spokesman for the camp, said in an emailed statement that multiple rockets hit the camp at 8:00 pm on Tuesday, and confirmed there had been no casualties.

He blamed groups loyal to Iran of being behind the strike and a previous rocket attack on the evening of December 25.

On Sunday, Iraq and the UN signed a pact under which Baghdad will resettle members of the People’s Mujahedeen and provide security for them while the UN determines their refugee status.

The agreement was signed by UN special envoy Martin Kobler and Iraqi National Security Adviser Falah al-Fayadh.

It did not give the location to which the residents would be moved or provide a timeline, but Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said the camp will now close in April, rather than at the end of this year.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said US embassy officials would visit the new site “regularly and frequently” in support of the UN plan.

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein allowed the rebel People’s Mujahedeen to set up the camp during the war with Iran in the 1980s.

When Saddam was overthrown in the US-led invasion of 2003, the camp came under US military protection, but American forces handed over security responsibilities for the site to the Baghdad authorities in January 2009.

The camp has been back in the spotlight since a controversial April raid by Iraqi security forces left at least 34 people dead and scores injured.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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