The dissidents alleged that more than 50 were killed and accused the Iraqi government. Baghdad said an internal dispute was to blame. And the United Nations mission to Iraq, which has been closely involved in trying to find a viable long-term solution for the dissidents, acknowledges it does not have a clear picture what happened.
If the exiles' claims of the number of casualties are proved true, it would mark a stunning blow for the remaining core of Mujahedeen-e-Khalq members still living at Camp Ashraf. The Saddam Hussein-era community northeast of Baghdad had been home to only about 100 members of the MEK before Sunday's events.
A statement issued by the U.N. in New York said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplores events at Camp Ashraf that "reportedly left 47 killed," though the U.N. cautioned that figure had not been confirmed.
A spokesman for the MEK's parent organization, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, alleged that those killed died in a raid launched by Iraqi security forces early Sunday. The spokesman, Shahin Gobadi, said some of those killed were found with hands cuffed behind their backs.
Gobadi said that 52 people inside the camp were killed, and he provided photos allegedly from the scene that showed several people that appeared to have been killed with gunshots. It was not possible to independently verify the authenticity of the photos.
Iraqi officials offered conflicting accounts of what happened.
Ali al-Moussawi, a spokesman for Iraq's prime minister, said a preliminary investigation suggests several camp residents died as a result of infighting inside the facility. He denied that Iraqi forces were involved in the violence, and said authorities are still trying to determine the number of casualties.
An intelligence official involved in helping secure the perimeter of the camp reported 19 killed, and said the clashes involving Iraqi forces broke out when camp residents tried to attack them. A police official in Diyala province, where Camp Ashraf is located, offered a similar casualty figure. They agreed to speak only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.