At least 12 people were killed and dozens were wounded in Iran’s capital Wednesday in a pair of rare terror attacks at parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, officials and reports said.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the twin attacks in the predominantly Shiite Muslim nation, though Iranian officials had yet to link the assault to the terror group. The country’s Revolutionary Guards placed blame on Saudi Arabia.
The apparently male assailants clad in women’s clothing stormed the nation’s parliament in Tehran, deputy interior minister Hossein Zolfaqari said, according to the Tasnim news agency. One attacker detonated a suicide vest, Zolfaqari said.
Four attackers were killed in the parliament mayhem, Tasnim reported.
“I was inside the parliament when shooting happened. Everyone was shocked and scared,” an unnamed journalist told Reuters. “I saw two men shooting randomly.”
Attackers including a suicide bomber launched an assault soon afterward on Khomeini’s shrine, officials said. One security guard was killed, while guards killed one of the attackers.
A policeman helped a child escapte the Iranian parliament building.
A woman was also arrested at the shrine, considered one of Iran’s most sacred sites.
Parliament was in session at the time and continued amid the siege.
Ali Larijani, speaker of Iran parliament, dismissed the attack as anything serious.
“This is a minor issue but reveals that the terrorists pursue troublemaking,” he told the IRNA state news agency. “Iran is particularly the active and effective hub of fighting against terrorism and they want to damage this trend.”
A suicide bomber later detonated an explosive on the building’s fourth floor. Police told IRNA that they stopped another attacker from setting off a suicide vest.
The son of a parliament staffer cries for his father as he waits outside the Iranian parliament in Tehran, Iran.
Gunshots could be heard in videos of the scene outside of the building as authorities surrounded parliament. Photo also emerged of police standing at windows and helping a child escape.
Roughly 12 miles south of parliament, a suicide explosion went off outside the shrine for Khomeini, the Islamic Republic’s founding father.
The site is particularly symbolic for Iranians. Khomeini was the spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic, and led the nation through its 1979 revolution.
The pair of assaults left at least 12 people dead and 42 wounded, according to local media.
Iran intelligence officials said they thwarted a third attack, which wasn’t cited by ISIS, and arrested a crew of attackers, the Washington Post reported, citing state TV.
Women inside the parliament during an attack in central Tehran.
The country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, vowing revenge, accused Saudi Arabia of masterminding the attacks.
“This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the U.S. president and the (Saudi) backward leaders who support terrorists,” the Guards said in a statement. “The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they were involved in the brutal attack.”
Saudi foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir denied Saudi extremists had committed the violent acts.
President Trump in a Wednesday afternoon statement sought to “underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”
“We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times,” he said.
A still image taken from a video released on the internet by Islamic State-affiliated Amaq News Agency.
In a tweet posted online Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to Trump’s remarks, calling the White House statement “repugnant.”
“Iranian people reject such U.S. claims of friendship,” he said.
The U.S. State Department condemned the Tehran attacks in a statement.
“We express our condolences to the victims and their families, and send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Iran,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. “The depravity of terrorism has no place in a peaceful, civilized world.”
The attack is the first within Iran for which ISIS has taken credit. The terror cell is losing its foothold in Iraq and Syria, where it is fighting against Iranian-backed forces.
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