Terrorist attackers raided Iran’s parliament and opened fire at the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini a few kilometers south of the capital on Wednesday morning, in near simultaneous assaults that killed at least 12 people, Reuters reported citing local media.
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The first assault took place at 10.30am local time when the parliament was in session. Four gunmen walked into the parliament buildings and began shooting at visitors. Parliament is in lockdown and the police are reported by state media to be still hunting the gunmen. A bomb blast was subsequently reported at Iranian parliament killing one and injuring several, officials said as cited by local media.
In a second incident half an hour later, at least two people opened fire at the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini. Several people are reported to have been injured there. One of the shrine attackers is reported to have killed himself by detonating an explosive vest. Another was shot dead.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks, AMAQ, a news agency close to the group, said. “Fighters from Islamic state attacked Khomeini’s shrine and the Iranian parliament in Tehran,” the news agency said.
"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, who asked not to be named.
The attackers killed seven people and wounded several others, Tasmin said. The news agency also said there were unconfirmed reports that the attackers had taken four hostages inside the parliament building, although according to a subsequent report by Iran's PressTV all terrorists at the parliament had been killed.
Four terrorists - including a suicide bomber - attacked the shrine of the late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran, Iran's state TV website reported.
As Reuters adds, three assailants, one with a pistol and two with AK-47 assault rifles, carried out the attack in central Tehran, lawmaker Elias Hazrati told state television. Another lawmaker said one of the assailants was surrounded by security forces and all the doors to the building had been closed, ISNA news agency reported.
Iran's state TV said a security guard was killed and four people were wounded in the shrine attack. It said one of the attackers at the shrine was killed by security guards and that a woman was arrested. It described the shrine attackers as "terrorists" and said one carried out a suicide bombing, without providing further details.
Tehran Governor Hossein Hashemi confirmed the incident at Ayatollah Khomeini mausoleum, saying that one attacker was killed by security forces and other assailants were arrested, IRIB broadcaster reported, as cited by Reuters. Hashemi added that a worker was killed and several people injured in the mausoleum attack.
"I was inside the parliament when 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. Around half an hour later, an attacker opened fire at the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, injuring several members of the public, Iran's English-language Press TV said.
State TV quoted lawmaker Elias Hazrati as saying the attackers at parliament were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles. Iran’s intelligence ministry said on state TV that the attacks were carried out by terrorist groups. Iran’s parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, added that “some cowardly terrorists” had penetrated the parliament building and that the security forces would fight them decisively.
A male assailant was arrested while on the run at the parliament's hallway, Akbar Ranjbarzadeh, a senior member of the parliament's Presiding Board told Farsnews.
The semi-official ISNA news agency said all entrance and exit gates at parliament were closed and that lawmakers and reporters were ordered to remain in place inside the chamber. Iranian state media said police helicopters were circling over the parliament building and that all mobile phone lines from inside were disconnected. Similar to the Mausoleum attack, Iranian state TV said one of the attackers taking part in an assault on parliament has blown himself up.
Fars cited some members of parliament who claimed that shooting continues in the building. “Clashes still continue at the parliament building,” one MP said. That has not been confirmed by other media outlets." A Tasmin reporter at the parliament says the lawmakers have been locked in the building’s hall.
Such attacks are incredibly rare in Iran, which keeps a very tight grip on domestic security. Iran has always said that its fight against militias in Iraq and Syria helps keep it safe. Iranians have not seen such strikes since the 1980s when, in the wake of the 1979 Islamic revolution, the Mujahedin Khalq Organisation (MEK), an exiled opposition group, resorted to armed struggle against the Islamic republic.
It was not immediately clear if the attacks were related, although the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Iran attacks, Al Jazeera Says, citing the group's Amaq news agency.
It was also not clear if the Iran attacks are linked to the recent diplomatic crisis gripping nearby Qatar.