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Death toll reaches 12 in Iraqi refugee camp violence

  • Story Highlights
  • Police raid at camp led to clashes with Iranian opposition group
  • People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran allied with Saddam Hussein in 1980s
  • Iran wants to see the camp shut down
  • 27 dead after bombs exploded near four Shiite mosques in Baghdad
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least 12 people have died in clashes between Iraqi police and members of an exiled Iranian opposition group at an Iraqi refugee camp, a group spokesman told CNN Friday.

Iraqi police block entrances to Camp Ashraf in Diyala province on July 29.

Iraqi police block entrances to Camp Ashraf in Diyala province on July 29.

A police raid at Camp Ashraf in Diyala province Tuesday led to fighting with members of the group -- the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran. Along with the deaths, there have been reports of several hundred injuries.

The PMOI was allied with Saddam Hussein in Iraq during the 1980s with a goal of toppling the Iranian regime. But since Hussein's overthrow in 2003, Iraq has established good relations with the Iranian government.

Iran wants to see the camp shut down, and the Iraqi government has said it would close the facility after it got control of the camp from the United States this year.

Residents in the camp are concerned about being forcibly turned over to Iran. People there said they would be willing to go back to Iran but only if there are assurances its members won't be mistreated.

The PMOI official also said 35 people are missing, and there are fears that they were to be forcibly taken back to Iran.

The fighting is over now, and Iraqi police have control of the entrances to the camp and its intersections and streets. It also has control of the camp's power station and water purification plant, the PMOI official said.

Amnesty International, the human rights monitoring group, wants the Iraqi government "to investigate the apparent excessive use of force by its security forces."

The group said "armed security forces used bulldozers to force their way into the camp" and they "used tear gas, water cannons and batons against unarmed residents who tried to stop them from entering the camp."

The United States and Iran say the group is a terrorist organization.

Amnesty International said in most cases the "terrorist" designation pinned on the PMOI by most entities -- such as the European Union and other governments -- has been shelved because the group "no longer advocates or engages in armed opposition to the government of Iran."

Meanwhile, at least 29 civilians died in Baghdad on Friday when roadside bombs exploded near four Shiite mosques, an Interior Ministry official said.

Police believe the attacks were coordinated. The explosions, after Friday prayers had ended, appeared to target worshipers leaving the mosques.

The deadliest bombing occurred in the Shaab neighborhood of northern Baghdad, where 21 people were killed and 35 were wounded.

Two others exploded in southeastern Baghdad. Two people were killed and seven others were wounded in Jisr Diyala and one person was killed and seven others were wounded in Zafaraniya.

Four people were wounded in the eastern neighborhood of Kamaliya neighborhood, and three people were wounded in the southwestern neighborhood of I'lam neighborhood.

CNN's Yousif Bassil contributed to this report.

All About IraqIranAmnesty International

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