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UN heads to Iran exile camp after clashes

World News : A UN team headed to a camp housing Iranian exiles north of Baghdad on Monday after residents alleged soldiers killed dozens of their members, charges Iraqi officials strongly denied.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, meanwhile, set up his own investigation into the unrest to sift through wildly differing accounts of Sunday’s events, in which clashes and explosions were reported but the extent and causes of the casualties remained in doubt.

The People’s Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran (PMOI) said on Sunday that Iraqi forces killed 52 of their members at Camp Ashraf, the group’s long-time base in Diyala province near the Iranian border, and set fire to their property.

But Iraqi officials insisted no soldiers entered Ashraf, and said explosions were triggered by mortar fire or the explosion of a barrel of oil or gas.

“There was a mission that went (to Ashraf) a little bit earlier to see what they can do there,” Eliana Nabaa, spokeswoman for the UN’s mission in Iraq, told.

“They will try to determine the facts.”

Maliki’s committee began its investigation late on Sunday, according to the prime minister’s spokesman Ali Mussawi, and was expected to report back in the coming days.

The violence was condemned by the UN’s refugee agency, which is charged with relocating the group’s members outside of Iraq, and the US State Department, but neither assigned blame for the unrest.

It follows two mortar attacks earlier this year on another camp housing the group, also known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), in which at least eight people were killed. Agencies

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