Gunmen and suicide bombers have attacked Iran’s parliament in central Tehran and the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in south of the city, killing at least 12 people.
Four armed assailants attacked parliament office buildings on Wednesday morning, while the shrine of revolutionary founder Ruhollah Khomeini was struck by a suicide bomber, state media reported.
It is very likely that these attacks were coordinated. It’s hardly a coincidence that it happened within minutes of each other.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the twin attacks on the Parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini shrine, which has left at least twelve people dead and 42 injured, the sources reported.
It is not clear whether the death toll of 12 includes the attackers, or whether the victims were killed at both incidents or solely at the parliament.
The attack on parliament, which was in session at the time, lasted more than three hours. Police surrounded the building and gunfire could be heard from outside.
About 40 people were injured in the two attacks, according to emergency services chief Pir Hossein Kolivand. Speaker Ali Larijani downplayed the events, describing it as a minor issue.
Reports said the gunmen had entered parliament via a public entrance, dressed as women. The suicide attacker was a woman, reports suggested.
Islamic State claimed responsibility and released a video purporting to show gunmen inside the parliament building and one man, who appeared wounded, on the floor.
Attackers dressed as women burst through parliament’s main entrance in central Tehran, deputy interior minister Mohammad Hossein Zolfaghari said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
One of them was shot dead and another one detonated his suicide vest, Mohammad Hossein Zolfaghari said. Images from the scene showed grenades and magazines for automatic weapons, apparently recovered from the body of an attacker.
In the Parliament attack, a security guard was killed in the firing. Iran news agency FARS News reports, quoting a senior member of the Parliament’s Presiding Board Akbar Ranjbarzadeh, as saying that the assailant in Parliament was arrested at the Parliament’s hallway. Reports also say that the attacker was carrying two Kalashnikov rifles and a handgun.
The atmosphere is tense. It is a blow to Rouhani. How can four armed men enter the parliament, where a very tight security has always been in place, said a senior official.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group claimed responsibility for the attacks via its online forum. If genuine, the claim marks the first major attack of the group inside Iran.
“Fighters from the Islamic State (ISIL) attacked the Khomeini mausoleum and the parliament building in Tehran,” cited in a security source.
ISIL later posted a video, showing what it claimed was footage from inside the parliament building. The video showed a bloody, lifeless body of a man lying on the ground next to a desk.
A voice on the video praised God and said in Arabic: “Do you think we will leave? We will remain, God willing.” Another voice repeats the same words.
The two appeared to be parroting a slogan used by ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, who was killed in Syria last year.
The attack on the shrine of Khomeini is symbolically stunning. As Iran’s first Supreme Leader, Khomeini is a towering figure in the country and was its revolutionary leader in the 1979 ouster of the shah.
The Intelligence Ministry called on people to be vigilant and report any suspicious movement. Despite unconfirmed reports of a hostage situation, state television said parliament had resumed, and broadcast footage of what it said was the opening session proceeding normally.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards say Saudi Arabia supported ISIS in the deadly twin attacks in Tehran on Wednesday, an accusation likely to infuriate the Saudi kingdom amid high tensions in the region.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vowed revenge for the attack, and tied it to the visit of US President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia in May.
World public opinion, especially in Iran, sees the fact that this terrorist act was perpetrated soon after the meeting of the US president with the heads of one of the reactionary regional states that has always supported terrorists as to be very meaningful, the statement read, according to sources from Iran.
The statement did not explicitly name Saudi Arabia, but the implication was clear. It continued to say that the as ISIS’s claim of responsibility for the attacks showed the country’s complicity in this wild move.
The Revolutionary Guards’ accusation comes at a time of heightened Saudi-Iranian tensions following a regional rift with Qatar.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar this week and has blocked several of the country’s media outlets. The rift was over comments allegedly made by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Hamad Al Thani hailing Iran as an “Islamic power” and criticizing Trump’s policy toward Tehran.
The Emir’s alleged comments appeared on Qatar’s official news agency, but Qatar said the website was hacked and the report fabricated by the culprits.
The attacks took place less than a month after the re-election of President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate, whose landslide victory defeated candidates supported by the hardline clergy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is responsible for national security.