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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraqi troops attack exiled Iranian armed group

RIA Novosti

18:12 08/04/2011

MOSCOW, April 8 (RIA Novosti) - At least 3 people were killed and many more injured in Friday's attack by Iraqi troops on a base of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), an exiled Iranian armed organization, located to the north of Baghdad, doctors say.

Western media reported the attack earlier on Friday. The Iraqi authorities have not confirmed the reports about the victims, while the spokesman for the Iranian Islamic group put the number of those killed at more than 30 and those injured at over 300.

"This morning, 1,500 Iraqi military officers backed by armored vehicles attacked the Ashraf base," Shahin Ghobadi said. "Thirty-one people were killed and more than 300 seriously injured as a result of the shooting."

The attacked base is located in Ashraf City, a one-hour drive from Baghdad. Ghobadi described the raid as a "crime against humanity," saying he had "no doubt" that it was ordered by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

A doctor at a hospital in the Iraqi city of Baqubah in the Diyala Governorate said on conditions of anonymity that only three PMOI members had been killed and 13 injured in the attack, while the Iraqi military lost five soldiers.

The PMOI was created in 1965 by Iranian students whose aim was to overthrow pro-Western Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and turn the country into a socialist Islamic republic. PMOI members supported Khamenei, the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, in his fight against the shah, but then split from the clericals. They have staged several terrorist attacks in Iran, one of which killed revolutionary leader Ayatollah Beheshti.

The organization was banned in Iran in the early 1980s and has had bases in Iraq since 1986. In 1992, the group attacked Iranian embassies in 13 countries and in 2000 it launched a mortar attack on the Tehran offices of Khamenei and then-Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

In 1997, the PMOI was included in a list of terrorist organizations by the United States and in 2002 by the European Union, but after the 2003 invasion that toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, Washington declared some 3,500 exiled group members "protected persons" under the Geneva Conventions.

In January 2009, the EU removed the PMOI from the list of terrorist organizations.

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