Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked Iran’s parliament and the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran on Wednesday morning, killing at least 12 people in a twin assault at the heart of the Islamic Republic, Iranian officials and media said.
Islamic State claimed responsibility and released a video purporting to show gunmen inside the parliament building and one body, apparently dead, on the floor.
The rare attacks were the first claimed by the hardline Sunni Muslim militant group inside in the tightly controlled Shi’ite Muslim country. Islamic State has regularly threatened Iran, one of the powers leading the fight against the militants’ forces in neighboring Iraq and, beyond that, Syria.
President Hassan Rouhani said that the attacks would make Iran more united.
Today’s terrorist attacks in Tehran will make the Islamic Republic of Iran more determined in the fight against regional terrorism, extremism, and violence, Rouhani said in a statement published on the news agency.
We will prove once again that we will crush the enemies‘ plots with more unity and more strength.
The raids took place at a particularly charged time after Iran’s main regional rival Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers cut ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of backing Tehran and militant groups.
The incident could exacerbate tensions in Iran between newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist, and his rivals among hardline clerics and the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Attackers dressed as women burst through parliament’s main entrance in central Tehran, deputy interior minister Mohammad Hossein Zolfaghari said.
One of them detonated a suicide vest in the parliament, he said. About five hours after the first reports, Iranian media said four people who had attacked Parliament were dead and the incident was over.
At least 12 people were killed by the attackers, the head of Iran’s emergency department, Pir-Hossein Kolivand, was quoted as saying by state broadcaster IRIB.
I was inside the parliament when the shooting happened. Everyone was shocked and scared. I saw two men shooting randomly, said one journalist at the scene, who asked not to be named.
Soon after the assault on parliament, another bomber detonated a suicide vest near the shrine of the Republic’s revered founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, a few kilometers south of the city, Zolfaghari said, according to Tasnim.
A second attacker was shot dead, he said. The shrine is the main destination for tourists and religious pilgrims.
The terrorists had explosives strapped to them and suddenly entered the shrine and started to shoot around, said the shrine’s overseer, Mohammad Ali Ansari.
The Intelligence Ministry said security forces had arrested another terrorist team” planning a third attack, without giving further details.