Iranian dissidents shot dead in Iraq

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The Independent Online

of Agence France-Presse

Baghdad - Gunmen shot dead three officials of Iran's main armed opposition group in Iraq yesterday when they opened fire on their car with automatic arms and anti-tank rockets, the People's Mujahedin group said.

Farid Slimani, a Mujahedin spokesman, accused the Iranian embassy of "directing" the attack in Baghdad and said one of the three gunmen, an Iranian, was arrested after a 12-mile car chase and gunfight.

The assailants opened fire from behind two Mujahedin vehicles, killing all three in the first car, as they drove to their camp at Ashraf, which was hit on Sunday in a rocket attack also blamed on Tehran. Mr Slimani said the assailants shot at their victims with Israeli-made Uzi sub-machine- guns and Kalashnikov automatic rifles. They also fired two RPG-18 anti- tank rockets but missed their target.

Mujahedin officials in the second car chased the assailants to southern Baghdad, braving automatic weapons fire and hand grenades before they captured one suspect and wounded the other two, who managed to flee on foot. The suspect who was handed over to Iraqi authorities has admitted involvement in a similar attack in Baghdad in May in which two female Mujahedin officials were killed and a third wounded.

The seized car contained five grenades, three Uzis, two Kalashnikovs, and one RPG-18.

The three victims were identified as Sayyed Hussein Sudeiry, 34, Ibrahim Suleimi, 36, and Bari Ali Kartabar, 33, all of whom had worked for the organisation since 1979.

Mr Slimani said the Iranian embassy was "entirely responsible" for the attack, adding the Mujahedin renewed a request to Iraqi authorities to close the mission.

Tehran gave no reaction to the latest attack. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mahmud Mohammadi, said only that Tehran "strongly denies Iraq's claim of an Iranian attack on a civilian target inside Iraq" on Sunday.