BAGHDAD — Deadly violence erupted at a disputed Iranian exile camp inside Iraq early Sunday, leaving international observers scrambling to determine the cause of the bloodshed and the number of casualties.
The dissidents said more than 50 were killed and accused the Iraqi government. Baghdad said an internal dispute was to blame.
The deaths occurred at Camp Ashraf, a Saddam Hussein-era community northeast of Baghdad that had been home to about 100 members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq. The group, known by the acronym MEK, opposes Iran's clerical regime. The Iraqi government wants to shut the camp and move MEK members out of the country.
A spokesman for the MEK's parent organization, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, alleged that those killed died in a raid launched by Iraqi security forces early Sunday. The spokesman, Shahin Gobadi, said some of those killed were found handcuffed behind the back.
Gobadi said that 52 people inside the camp were killed, and he provided photos allegedly from the scene that showed the bodies of several people who appeared to have been killed with gunshots. It was not possible to independently verify the authenticity of the photos.
A police official in Diyala province, where Camp Ashraf is located, corroborated the account of an Iraqi raid on the camp overnight, and said that at least 19 people were killed. He agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.