Suicide bombers and gunmen struck at the heart of Iran’s political and religious establishment on Wednesday in simultaneous attacks, killing 12 and wounding 42, according to an an Iranian media.
The state-run news website, Mizan Online, is affiliated with the judiciary and attributed the toll from Wednesday’s attacks to Pirhossein Kolivand, the head of Iran’s emergency department.
Several gunmen and suicide bombers attacked parliament and the shrine to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, setting off an hours-long siege at the legislature that ended with four attackers dead. Hours after the first reports of gunfire, state media reported a blast in the building which the Intelligence Ministry said was a suicide bomb.
A man hands a child to a security guard from Iran’s parliament building after an assault of several attackers, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, June 7, 2017
While one team of militants was intercepted by security forces, another had got through, the ministry said. ISIL claimed both attacks using its group’s Amaq News Agency, saying they were carried by its fighters.
A 24-second video released by Aamaq news agency purports to show the siege of Iran’s parliament. The video, circulated online, shows a gunman and a bloody, lifeless body of a man lying on the ground next to a desk.
A voice on the video praises God and says 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.
ISIL rarely releases statements or other media about ongoing operations. The video emerged before Iranian media reported that the siege had ended, with four attackers killed.
The rare attacks in the usually safe capital come as Iranian security forces and allied militias are leading offensives against the Sunni jihadists of Islamic State and other militant groups in both Syria and Iraq. U.S.-backed Syrian fighters on Tuesday launched an offensive to retake Islamic State’s self-declared capital of Raqqa, pushing the group further onto the defensive.
Iran’s Interior Ministry will hold an emergency security meeting. Roads leading to parliament in downtown Tehran were closed. Photographs circulated via state media showed security forces stationed outside the building.
“Terrorists are trying to create problems here,” Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani was shown on television as telling lawmakers. “The security forces will for certain deal with them in a serious manner.”
A Jan. 2017 file photo of the shrine of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini just outside Tehran, Iran.
In a separate incident on the outskirts of the city, gunmen entered the Khomenei shrine and opened fire before an explosion hit the site, Tasnim reported. Images of the blast were shown by Iran’s Press TV, which said one assailant was shot dead before setting off his explosives, but another succeeded in detonating himself.
One worker on site was killed and several others injured in the attack on the shrine, Press TV reported, citing the Tehran governor.
Shiite Iran’s rivalry with Saudi Arabia, the Middle East’s preeminent Sunni power, has also escalated. Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump gathered Sunni leaders in Riyadh in an effort to isolate Iran over its links to regional militants, including the Palestinian movement Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Both are designated as terrorist groups by the U.S. and several European nations.
Security personnel take position in front of Iran’s parliament building after an assault by several attackers, in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, June 7, 2017
This week, an alliance of Saudi Arabia, two other Gulf monarchies and Egypt sparked the biggest diplomatic crisis in years in the region, with a coordinated effort to punish Qatar over its closer relations with Tehran and alleged support for Islamist extremists.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected to a second term in a mid-May election, after a bruising contest with a hardline cleric who opposed Rouhani’s economic engagement with the West and pledge to loosen civil liberties.
With assistance from Sam Wilkin and the Associated Press