Tehran: Gunmen and suicide bombers stormed Iran’s parliament and the shrine of its revolutionary leader on Wednesday, killing 12 people in the first attacks in the country claimed by the Islamic State group.
The Sunni jihadists of ISIS consider Shiite Iran to be apostates, and Tehran is deeply involved in fighting the group in both Syria and Iraq.
The assaults began mid-morning when four gunmen burst into the parliament complex in the centre of Tehran, killing a security guard and one other person, according to the ISNA news agency.
An interior ministry official said they were dressed as women and entered through the visitors’ entrance. One eventually exploded a suicide vest while the others were killed by security forces.
At roughly the same time, two assailants entered the grounds of the Khomeini mausoleum, killing a gardener and wounding several others.
One detonated a suicide vest, while the other was shot dead. It was not clear whether the shrine attackers were women, as earlier reported, or just wearing female clothing.
Iran’s emergency services said a total of 12 people were killed in the two attacks and 43 wounded.
Iran’s leaders sought to play down the attacks, with neither President Hassan Rouhani nor supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei making a statement by early evening.
Parliament was in session as the violence unfolded and members were keen to show they were undeterred, posting selfies showing themselves as calm and continuing with regular business.
Meanwhile, gunshots continued in the neighbouring office buildings, with police helping staff to escape from windows and snipers taking position from rooftops.
Speaker Ali Larijani dismissed the attacks, saying they were a “trivial matter” and that security forces were dealing with them. The Intelligence ministry said there had been a third “terrorist” team that was neutralised before the attacks started.