Paris (AFP) Jan 8, 2011
The head of Iran's main exiled opposition coalition on Saturday accused forces in Iraq of carrying out an attack on a camp housing Iranians that left dozens injured.
Maryam Rajavi, president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said in a statement from Paris that "the Iranian regime's henchmen, from Iraq and Iran" carried out a "criminal aggression" on Friday against Camp Ashraf in Iraq, home to about 3,500 members of the People's Mujahedeen of Iran (PMOI) and their families.
She said 176 residents of the camp had been wounded in the attack, which saw attackers throwing stones, iron bars and Molotov cocktails at camp residents.
"Video clips and photographs taken from the scene clearly show the active and vicious collaboration of the Iraqi armed forces and the agents of the committee under the command of the office of Iraq's prime minister in the criminal attacks," she said.
Rajavi said the attack showed that protection by US forces and a permanent UN monitoring team were "an inevitable necessity" at the camp.
The alleged attack came as Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi visited Iraq Friday where he met with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
The People's Mujahedeen, a left-wing and Islamic movement, was founded in 1965 in opposition to the shah and has subsequently fought to oust the clerical regime that took power in Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.
The group set up Camp Ashraf in the 1980s -- when former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was at war with the Islamic republic -- as a base to operate against the Tehran government. It was disarmed following the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
earlier related report
"Exploiting these events for intervention is something we cannot accept," Mussa said at a news conference in response to a question about attacks on Christians potentially being used as a pretext for outside intervention.
"We should be clear while talking to any power who has something to say in this, because there is a difference between being interested and being compassionate, and the exploitation of the issue," Mussa said.
"What happened is of great concern for us," he said of a January 1 bombing that killed 21 people at a Coptic church in Egypt's second city Alexandria, and a spate of attacks on Christians in Iraq.
Christians "are of the Arab world, and we should provide them with security. Everyone was opposed to the terrorist acts, and these acts confirm that public opinion in the Arab world is against these terrorist crimes," Mussa said.
On October 31, militants stormed Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad, leaving 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security force personnel dead in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda's local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq.
Ten days after the church massacre, a string of bomb and mortar attacks targeting the homes of Christians in Baghdad killed six people and wounded 33.
And on December 30, at least two Christians were killed and 16 others were wounded in a wave of bombings on Christian targets in Baghdad.
Mussa also addressed recent threats made by Ansar al-Islam, an Islamist group, against countries taking part in an Arab summit planned for Baghdad in March.
"Those who are threatening attacks have accused the Iraqi government of being non-Arab oriented. What do they want? To turn their back on Iraq, or isolate it?" Mussa said.
"These threats should push Arab leaders to convene and discuss the differences" between them, he said, adding that differences of opinion should be respected.
Iraq has not hosted an Arab League summit since 1978, although an extraordinary meeting of leaders took place there in 1990.
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