IS claims at­tacks that killed at least 12 in Iran

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

GUN­MEN stormed two ma­jor sites in Iran’s cap­i­tal yes­ter­day, killing at least 12 peo­ple in gun­fire and sui­cide blasts in par­lia­ment and at the revered tomb of the na­tion’s Is­lamic rev­o­lu­tion leader.

The Is­lamic State (IS) claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the Tehran at­tacks, which would mark the group’s first ma­jor strikes in Iran.

State-run broad­caster IRIB re­ported the twin at­tacks killed at least 12 peo­ple in an hours-long stand-off that ended with all four at­tack­ers be­ing killed by se­cu­rity forces.

Ear­lier, state news agency IRNA said the dead in­cluded at least two se­cu­rity guards and that about 30 peo­ple were wounded.

The IS group’s me­dia arm Amaq claimed the mil­i­tant group car­ried out the twin at­tacks. IS, how­ever, is of­ten quick to take own­er­ship of spec­tac­u­lar as­saults with­out pro­vid­ing any ev­i­dence.

Iran is pre­dom­i­nantly Shia Mus­lim and is at odds with Sunni ex­trem­ist groups such as al-Qaeda and IS, which view Shia be­liefs as a de­viant brand of Is­lam and have car­ried out at­tacks against Shia tar­gets and Ira­nian re­li­gious pil­grims in Iraq and else­where across the re­gion.

Shia fac­tions backed by Iran, mean­while, have joined bat­tles against IS in Iraq and aid the gov­ern­ment of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad in Syria.

De­spite the years of ten­sions be­tween Iran and the IS, the pur­ported ter­ror­ist blow in Tehran would sig­nify a se­ri­ous es­ca­la­tion by the mil­i­tants in the re­gion af­ter claim­ing a wave of at­tacks in Europe.

For Iran, it also sharply raises the stakes be­cause of the im­por­tance of both sites.

Iran views its par­lia­ment, or ma­jlis, as a sym­bol of par­tic­i­pa­tory gov­ern­ment in con­trast to its main re­gional ri­vals, in­clud­ing Saudi Ara­bia and its Gulf Arab al­lies. The ex­pan­sive com­plex around the tomb of Ay­a­tol­lah Ruhol­lah Khome­ini is both a spir­i­tual and po­lit­i­cal tes­ta­ment to the 1979 Is­lamic rev­o­lu­tion.

The huge court­yard and build­ings, in­clud­ing blue tile domes flank­ing the mau­soleum, are filled with vis­i­tors dur­ing the holy month of Ra­madaan.

At­tacks of this kind are a rar­ity in the heart of Iran’s cap­i­tal, where se­cu­rity forces are de­ployed at prom­i­nent sites. The par­lia­ment build­ing, with a green mar­ble cham­ber for law­mak­ers, is in the cen­tre of the city, and the tomb com­plex for Khome­ini is about 20km to the south near the in­ter­na­tional air­port.

“Some coward ter­ror­ists in­fil­trated a build­ing in the Ma­jlis, but they were se­ri­ously con­fronted,” par­lia­ment’s speaker, Ali Lar­i­jani, told IRNA. “This is a mi­nor is­sue but re­veals that the ter­ror­ists pur­sue trou­ble­mak­ing.”

Ira­nian in­tel­li­gence, mean­while, said they had foiled a third at­tack and ar­rested a team, ac­cord­ing to the state broad­caster. The state­ment from the IS didn’t men­tion a third at­tack.

PIC­TURE: AP

Po­lice of­fi­cers con­trol the scene around the shrine of the late Ira­nian rev­o­lu­tion­ary founder Ay­a­tol­lah Khome­ini, af­ter two at­tacks in Tehran yes­ter­day.

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