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Friday, June 11, 1999 Published at 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK

World: Middle East

Iraq says Iran fired Scuds

An earlier car bombing killed six Mujahedeen fighters

Iraq has accused Iran of firing the missiles that landed on a military base in Iraq occupied by a militant Iranian opposition group in exile.

"Iranian leaders are wrong to believe there will not be any riposte," said an Iraqi government spokesman, for what he called "a cowardly attack".

BBC Middle East Affairs Analyst Kate Clark: "They've been fighting for years"
A spokesman for the People's Mujahedeen, or Mujahedeen Khalq, said three Scud-B missiles hit the Ashraf base, 110km northeast of Baghdad, near the border with Iran, on Thursday evening. He said a fourth missile had exploded in flight.

None of the Iranians at the base were injured, but Iraqis living nearby "suffered", according to the Mujahedeen spokesman, who gave no further details.

It is the second time Scuds have hit the base in recent years.

The Mujahedeen leader, Massud Rajavi, has sent a message to the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, calling for "an end to these aggressions".

He accused Iran of violating a Security Council resolution that ended the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.

[ image: The Scud strike came hours after the car-bomb funerals]
The Scud strike came hours after the car-bomb funerals
The missiles struck just hours after funerals were held at the Ashraf base for six Mujahedeen fighters killed in a Baghdad truck bombing.

The Mujahedeen blamed that incident - in which an Iraqi civilian also died - on "terrorists sent by the Tehran regime". It says there have been 75 attacks by Iran in the past six years.

Overthrow threat

The two sides are involved in frequent skirmishes along the Iraq-Iran border, and two months ago the Mujahedeen said it had killed a senior Iranian military official, Lieutenant General Ali Sayyad Shirazi.

At a meeting in May, the organisation repeated its threat to overthrow the Iranian Government and set a deadline of May 2001.

Baghdad allows Mujahedeen fighters to operate out of bases in Iraq - a major obstacle to the normalisation of relations with Iran.

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