IS claims attacks that killed at least 12 in Iran
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.
Police officers control the scene around the shrine of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, after two attacks in Tehran yesterday.