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Found 15 results

  1. The Louvre?s tour of Iran reflects France?s determined use of cultural diplomacy as it seeks to rebuild traditional ties with Iran/ AFP TEHRAN: Journalists flooded Iran´s National Museum on Monday for the arrival of more than 50 artworks from the Louvre -- the first major show by a Western museum in the country´s history. The show reflects France´s determined use of cultural diplomacy as it seeks to rebuild traditional ties with Iran, even as their officials hold tense talks over political and security issues. The doors were unsealed for journalists at the National Museum in central Tehran, which is currently celebrating its 80th anniversary, a day ahead of the public opening. Among the items shipped over by cargo plane were a 2,400-year-old Egyptian sphinx, a bust of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and drawings by Rembrandt and Delacroix. "Some were definitely easier to transport than others," said Judith Henon, one of the experts sent by the Louvre. "Our Iranian partners really liked the sphinx, but it weighs close to a tonne and was extremely complicated to put in place." The show marks the culmination of two years of work since a cultural exchange agreement was signed during a visit by President Hassan Rouhani to Paris in January 2016. "Relations between France and Iran are old and profound because France was a pioneer of archaeological exploration here," Jean-Luc Martinez, president of the Louvre, told AFP. "This completely unprecedented exhibition... allows us to make the link between this glorious moment and relations that date back to the 19th century." Cultural ties France has deep cultural ties with pre-revolutionary Iran, and the National Museum itself was built by a Frenchman, Andre Godard, in 1938. While Britain and Russia battled for political influence in 19th century Persia, it was the French who led the way in archaeological affairs. "France had priority on cultural questions in the late 19th century and was the only one doing digs in Iran," said Julien Cuny, one of the Louvre´s curators for the Tehran show, and an expert on Iran. So as not to hand over everything to Britain and Russia, the Persian monarchs handed control of certain issues to other countries, and cultural affairs ended up largely with France. "As a result of that, it was the French that set up the antiquities service here in 1930," said Cuny. That helped preserve France´s reputation among Iranians even as that of Britain, the United States and Russia plummeted in the years ahead of the 1979 Islamic revolution. "Back in the day, the British were looking for oil while we were doing archaeology, so our relations have focused on positive things. It´s an image that has stuck," said a French diplomat. The irony is that the show opens just as France and Iran find themselves in a tense diplomatic moment. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was Monday in Tehran to inaugurate the Louvre show, but more importantly to hold difficult talks over ballistic missiles and interventions in the region. Iran´s conservative press accused him of insulting the Iranian people with his criticisms of the missile programme and labelled him a "lackey" of US President Donald Trump. The cultural domain offers a chance to focus on the positive re-engagement between France and Iran, which has also been seen in a number of trade and investment deals involving carmakers Peugeot and Renault as well as energy giant Total since the 2015 nuclear accord. University links are another branch, with some 1,700 Iranians currently studying in France. "This exhibition reflects the shared ambition to bolster our relations. We want to say that Iran is coming back to international normalisation," said a diplomat accompanying Le Drian.
  2. TEHRAN: Pro-government rallies were held around Tehran Friday with authorities seeking to put the recent violent unrest to bed, as Washington slapped fresh sanctions on Iran and called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting. Iranian officials blamed a plot by the CIA, Israel and Saudi Arabia for the unrest that convulsed much of the country for five days - part of the increasing tensions playing out between Iran and its neighbours since President Donald Trump came to power. For a third straight day, there were large pro-government rallies, this time in 40 locations around Tehran province and several cities including Tabriz and Kerman after Friday prayers, as authorities declared the unrest over. "We are here to show that we can solve our problems ourselves, and will never allow Saudi Arabia, the USA and Israel to intervene... and we are behind the revolution until our last drop of blood," Mohsen, an IT engineer in the crowd, told AFP. The US imposed sanctions against five Iranian firms alleged to have been working on an illegal ballistic missile programme, linking the move to the protests. On the streets of Tehran, a heavy police presence lingered though there were no reports of fresh protests overnight. There were some reports of small anti-government demonstrations in provincial towns, but these could not be verified. Police asked people to send photos and videos of "trouble-makers", local media reported, and to identify a number of suspects already caught on camera. It remains difficult to gauge who was involved in the unrest that began December 28, claiming 21 lives - mostly protesters - and leading to hundreds of arrests. President Hassan Rouhani's supporters have blamed conservative rivals for stoking anger over economic issues, which quickly grew out of control and saw attacks on security forces, government buildings and symbols of the regime. The conservatives deny the accusations and say Rouhani must do more to help the poor, with parliament already moving to repeal an unpopular fuel tax hike in his recent budget. The United Nations Security Council was set to hold an emergency meeting on the issue on Friday at the request of the United States. 'CIA plot' Chief prosecutor Mohammad Jafar Montazeri blamed the unrest on a plot dating back four years by the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. "The main architect of this plan is Michael D'Andrea," Montazeri said, referring to the head of the CIA's Iran desk. "They launched (social media) campaigns with the theme of 'no to high prices', 'no to paying bills'," he said, adding that the plan was to start unrest in the provinces before moving on Tehran. Montazeri also claimed there were efforts to infiltrate the Daesh into the country. "Eternal bedfellows #KSA (Saudi Arabia) and #ISIS - following Trump's lead - all endorse violence, death and destruction in Iran. Why are we not surprised," tweeted Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Many officials have nonetheless recognised the genuine economic grievances of many Iranians, particularly a jobless rate at close to 30 percent for young people. Iran's economic growth rebounded to more than 12 percent last year after sanctions were lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, but analysts say much of the windfall has come from renewed oil sales that generate few jobs. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said 42,000 people had taken part in the unrest nationwide. It was higher than a previous figure of 15,000 given by the head of the Revolutionary Guards, but still far below the hundreds of thousands that took to the streets during the last major protest movement in 2009. Nuclear waivers While the US has piled pressure on Iran, both Russia and Turkey have jumped to its defence. Moscow criticised Washington for calling the UN Security Council meeting and then called for close-door discussions ahead of Friday´s deliberations. Diplomats expect Russia to try to block the formal Council meeting by requesting a procedural vote to decide whether the situation in Iran should be on the agenda. "The United States continues to interfere both openly and covertly in the internal affairs of other countries. They do so shamelessly," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, quoted by Interfax news agency. US President Donald Trump must decide next week whether to continue waiving nuclear-related sanctions suspended under the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. Under the deal, Trump must actively lift certain sanctions every few months and the next deadline falls on January 12. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "We cannot accept that some countries - foremost the US, Israel -- interfere in the internal affairs of Iran." Trump repeatedly tweeted his backing for the protesters during Iran´s unrest, at one point saying: "Such respect for the people of Iran as they try to take back their corrupt government". That was rebuffed by marchers on Friday. "Mr Trump passed laws against Iranians such as the immigration ban, and he called Iranians ´savages´... and suddenly he is sympathising and supporting Iranians and it is ridiculous," said Khalili, a government worker in Tehran.
  3. An Iranian woman raises her fist amid the smoke of tear gas at the University of Tehran during a protest ? driven by anger over economic problems ? in Tehran, Iran, December 30, 2017. AFP/STR DUBAI: Street protests hit Iran for a third day running on Saturday, spreading to the capital Tehran with crowds confronting police and attacking some state buildings, and a social media report said two demonstrators had been shot dead in a provincial town. The wave of anti-government demonstrations ? prompted in part by discontent over economic hardship and alleged corruption ? are the most serious since months of unrest in 2009 that followed the disputed re-election of the then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Saturday?s protests, in fact, coincided with state-sponsored rallies staged across the Islamic Republic to mark the final suppression of the 2009 unrest by security forces, with mass pro-government events in Tehran and Mashhad. Pro-government rallies were held in some 1,200 cities and towns in all, state television reported. At the same time, anti-government demonstrations broke out anew in a string of cities and in Tehran, for the first time, where protesters confronted and stoned riot police around the main university, with pro-government crowds nearby. Videos posted on social media from the western town of Dorud showed two young men lying motionless on the ground, covered with blood, and a voiceover said they had been shot dead by riot police firing on protesters. Other protesters in the video chanted, ?I will kill whoever killed my brother!? The video ? like others posted during the current protest wave ? could not be immediately authenticated. In an earlier footage, marchers in Dorud shouted, ?Death to the dictator,? referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Social media video from Mashhad showed protesters overturning a riot police car and police motorcycles set ablaze. In Tehran, the semi-official news agency Fars said up to 70 students gathered in front of its main university and hurled rocks at police, also chanting, ?Death to the dictator.? Social media footage showed riot police using clubs to disperse more protesters marching in nearby streets, and arresting some of them. The student news agency ISNA said police shut two metro stations to prevent more protesters arriving. In Tehran and Karaj west of the capital, protesters smashed windows on state buildings and set fires in the streets. Images carried by the semi-official news agency Tasnim showed burning garbage bins and smashed-up bus shelters in the street lining the university after the protests subsided. Brigadier-General Esmail Kowsari ? the Revolutionary Guards? deputy security chief in Tehran ? said the situation in the capital was under control and warned protesters would face ?the nation?s iron fist? if unrest persisted. ?If people came into the streets over high prices, they should not have chanted those (anti-government) slogans and burned public property and cars,? Kowsari told ISNA. The United States condemned the scores of arrests of protesters reported by Iranian media since Thursday. President Donald Trump tweeted, ?The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran?s people are what their leaders fear the most.? State media quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi as saying in response to an earlier Trump tweet criticizing the arrests, ?The Iranian people see no value in the opportunistic claims by American officials and Mr. Trump.? Iranian media also reported street protests in the cities of Kashan, Arak, Ahvaz, Zanjan, Bandar Abbas, and Kerman. The elite Revolutionary Guards and its Basij militia ? which spearheaded the security crackdown that crushed the protests of 2009 ? said in a statement carried by state media, ?The Iranian nation ... will not allow the country to be hurt.? Discontent Openly political protests are rare in the Islamic Republic, where security services are omnipresent. But there is considerable discontent over high unemployment, inflation, and alleged graft. Some of the new protests have turned political over issues, including Iran?s costly involvement in regional conflicts, such as those in Syria and Iraq. Joblessness has risen and annual inflation is running at about eight percent, with shortages of some foods contributing to higher prices and hardship for many families. Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli warned against attempts to promote protests via social media. ?We ask people not to take part in unlawful gatherings. If they plan a gathering they should apply (for a permit),? he told the Young Journalists Club news website. On Thursday, hundreds of people took to the streets in Mashhad ? one of the holiest places in Islam ? to protest against high prices, shouting anti-government slogans. Police arrested 52 people, according to a judicial official. An unnamed official quoted by state broadcaster IRIB?s website said on Friday IRIB had not covered the protests so far ?after being asked by relevant bodies that the issue should not be reflected on state radio and television?. Most detainees freed Most of those arrested in the last two days had been released, state television said, without giving details. ?Enemy websites and foreign media continue to try to exploit economic hardships and the legitimate demands of the people in this respect to launch illegal gatherings and possible unrest,? it said. Though purely political protests are seldom seen in Iran, demonstrations are often held by workers over lay-offs or non-payment of salaries and by people who hold deposits in non-regulated, bankrupt financial institutions. President Hassan Rouhani?s leading achievement ? a 2015 deal with world powers that curbed Iran?s nuclear program in return for a lifting of most international sanctions ? has yet to bring the broad economic benefits the government says are coming. Unemployment has risen to 12.4 percent this fiscal year, according to the Statistical Center of Iran, up 1.4 percentage points and leaving about 3.2 million Iranians jobless.
  4. Iranians chant slogans in support of the regime as they march in Tehran on December 30, 2017, after two days of demonstrations against the country's religious rulers. Photo: AFP TEHRAN: Tear gas filled the streets of downtown Tehran on Saturday as protests spilt into a third day, with the government warning against further "illegal gatherings". There was chaos around the University of Tehran as several hundred people scuffled with police and shouted slogans against the regime for several hours, bringing traffic to a standstill. But the regime also put on a show of strength, with hundreds of counter-demonstrators seizing control of the university entrance in Tehran, chanting "Death to the seditionists". Videos shared by social media users outside Iran claimed to show thousands marching peacefully in several cities including Khorramabad, Zanjan and Ahvaz, with chants of "Death to the dictator". But a swirl of wild rumours online, combined with travel restrictions and a near-total media blackout from official agencies, made it difficult to verify footage. Telecoms minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi accused one popular Telegram channel of encouraging the "use of Molotov cocktails, armed uprising, and social unrest". The authorities were fortunate that annual rallies marking the defeat of the last major protest movement in 2009 were already scheduled for Saturday morning and brought thousands of regime enthusiasts to the streets across the country. "We urge all those who receive these calls to protest not to participate in these illegal gatherings as they will create problems for themselves and other citizens," warned Interior Minister Abdolrahman Rahmani Fazli. ?A new plot? The protests began in the second city of Mashhad on Thursday as an attack on high living costs but quickly turned against the Islamic regime as a whole. There were even chants in favour of the monarchy toppled by the Islamic revolution of 1979, while others criticised the regime for supporting the Palestinians and other regional movements rather than focusing on problems at home. State news channel IRINN said it had been banned from covering the protests that spread to towns and cities including Qom and Kermanshah. "The enemy wants once again to create a new plot and use social media and economic issues to foment a new sedition," Ayatollah Mohsen Araki, a prominent cleric, told a crowd in Tehran, according to the conservative Fars news agency. Other officials also pointed the blame outside Iran. "Although people have a right to protest, protesters must know how they are being directed," Massoumeh Ebtekar, vice president in charge of women?s affairs, wrote on Twitter. She posted images from Twitter accounts based in the United States and Saudi Arabia, voicing support for the Mashhad protests.
  5. Crisscrossed by several major geological fault lines, Iran is one of the world's most quake-prone countries. Photo: Getty Images/file DUBAI: One person died of a heart attack and at least 56 people were slightly hurt when an earthquake of 4.2 magnitude shook an area 50 km (31 miles) west of the Iranian capital Tehran on Wednesday, the state news agency IRNA reported. Most of the injured were hurt while trying to run out of buildings and were released from the hospital after treatment, IRNA quoted the country?s Emergency Medical Services as saying. The quake is an aftershock of a 5.2 magnitude quake on Dec. 20 that killed two people. It was also felt in Tehran where many residents spent the night outside in cars, or in sports facilities and other buildings turned into rescue centres, local news agencies said. Crisscrossed by several major geological fault lines, Iran is one of the world?s most quake-prone countries. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 quake in Kerman province killed 31,000 people and flattened the ancient city of Bam.
  6. File Photo LONDON: An earthquake of magnitude 5.2 struck Iran?s capital Tehran on Wednesday, the state television said. There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. According to the Washington Post, "the quake hit Meshkindasht, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) southwest of Tehran, at 23:28 Wednesday local time". The quake was felt in several cities in Iran?s north, including Tehran. Rescue teams were sent to site.
  7. Iran?s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Tehran and Moscow needed to step up cooperation to isolate the United States. Photo: Reuters ANKARA: Iran?s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Tehran and Moscow needed to step up cooperation to isolate the United States and restore peace in the Middle East, Iranian state TV reported. ?Full resolution of Syria?s crisis needs strong cooperation between Iran and Russia ... Our cooperation can isolate America ... This cooperation will restore stability in the region,? Khamenei said during a meeting with Putin, state TV added.
  8. Vladimir Putin pictured with Hassan Rouhani - File photo TEHRAN: Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Tehran on Wednesday for an official visit, with talks expected to focus on Syria, the Iranian nuclear agreement and bilateral ties. Putin will also take part in a summit with his Iranian and Azerbaijani counterparts, Hassan Rouhani and Ilham Aliyev. Putin is to hold separate talks with Rouhani and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as Russia and Iran cooperate on a range of issues including the conflict in Syria. The Kremlin said Syria will be a focus of the talks, which come after Russia, Turkey and Iran pledged in Kazakhstan on Tuesday to bring the Syrian regime and its opponents together for a "congress" to push peace efforts. Russia and Iran, which support President Bashar al-Assad's government, and Turkey, which backs Syrian rebels, have organised a series of peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana this year, agreeing on the establishment of "de-escalation" zones in various parts of the war-torn country. Wednesday's talks will also focus on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which saw sanctions lifted in exchange for limits on Tehran´s atomic programme and which is under pressure from US President Donald Trump. Tehran signed the deal with six countries including Russia and the United States, but Trump last month refused to certify the agreement, drawing criticism from Moscow which slammed the US president's "aggressive and threatening rhetoric" against Iran.
  9. Iranian security officials at the Pak-Iran border town of Mirjaveh. Photo: AFP ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office (FO) stated on Wednesday that the Pak-Iran border commission has held its first meeting in Tehran. The Pakistani side was headed by Foreign Ministry's Mansoor Ahmed Khan and included Southern Command Inspector General Frontier Corps Major General Sardar Tariq. An FO spokesperson said issues related to the Pak-Iran border were discussed in the meeting. Both sides agreed to fully implement the 1960 Pak-Iran border agreement, the spokesperson added. The two parties also agreed to enhance joint cooperation against drug smugglers, human traffickers and terrorists. Both sides also agreed to refrain from violating the 917-kilometres-long border between the two countries, the FO stated further. The international border linking Pakistan's Balochistan and Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province is the site of frequent turmoil, both between the state security forces and terrorists operating in each other's territory. On Saturday, Iran claimed two of its civilians were killed when militants from Pakistan opened fire. Pakistan will not tolerate any drone attacks on its territory: FO Drone attacks are against Pakistan's integrity, remarked Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria Late last month, an Iranian drone was shot down in Balochistan's Panjgur District along the border. "The drone was hit by Pakistan Air Force jets as it was unidentified and flying around three to four kilometres inside Pakistani territory," an FO statement had stated. On May 27, a man was killed in mortar shelling from the Iranian side of the border in Panjgur district. The district commissioner (DC) of Panjgur said a mortar shell landed on a vehicle, instantly killing one man inside and causing extensive damage nearby. Man killed from Iranian mortar fire in Balochistan Panjgur DC says protest lodged with Iranian border force; flag meeting on Sunday The DC added that a strong protest has been lodged with the Iranian border authorities. A week earlier, five mortar shells fired from Iran landed in the Chaghai area of the province. No casualties were reported in the incident. In April, ten Iranian border guards were killed by militants said to be operating from Pakistan. Iran said that Jaishal Adl militants had shot the guards with long-range guns, fired from inside Pakistan. Later, the head of the Iranian armed forces warned Islamabad that Tehran would hit bases inside Pakistan if the government does not confront militants who carry out cross-border attacks. The situation was later resolved via dialogue and the rhetoric subsided.
  10. DUBAI: Tehran police shot dead a man who attacked a clergyman and other people with a knife at a metro station on Saturday, Iranian state television reported. Hadi Tamhidi, deputy governor of the Shar-e Rey district in south Tehran, said the unidentified man attacked the clergyman with a knife after a dispute, and injured another man. Police shot and wounded the assailant, who later died of his injuries, Tamhidi said, adding that the assailant was mentally "unbalanced". A spokesman for the metro said traffic at the Shar-e Rey station had returned to normal after the incident.
  11. TEHRAN: Iran has targeted militants in Syria with missiles in retaliation for deadly attacks in Tehran. Late Sunday, the elite Revolutionary Guards launched six missiles from western Iran into Syria´s mostly Daesh held Deir Ezzor province, hitting their command base, the Guards said. The strike was "revenge" for twin attacks in Tehran on June 7 that killed 17 people in the first Daesh claimed attacks inside Iran, a Guards spokesman added. As well as punishing "terrorists", it was intended to show that Iran is capable of projecting military power across the region, officials and experts said. Sunday´s strike was the first known missile attack launched from Iran into foreign territory since the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88. "The missile attacks were only a small part of Iran´s punitive power against terrorists and enemies," Guards spokesman General Ramezan Sharif said Monday. "International and regional supporters of the terrorists must realise the warning message of the missile operation." Iran has long accused the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of backing "terrorists". US President Donald Trump meanwhile accuses Iran of backing terrorism, a charge it denies and has threatened to tear up a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.
  12. Smoke is seen during an attack on the Iranian parliament in central Tehran, Iran. Tasnim News Agency/Handout via REUTERS Iran said its security forces on Saturday killed the mastermind of a twin attack on Tehran that left 17 people dead this week, as security was tightened around the country to prevent other possible plots. Daesh has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings and gun attacks on parliament and the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, on Wednesday. "The mastermind and main commander of terrorist attacks on the parliament and Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini was killed today by the security forces," intelligence minister Mahmoud Alavi was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency. Alavi said that in the last month the intelligence ministry had identified and crushed "a terrorist team" almost every day but had not publicised it to avoiding spreading fear among the public. Iranian authorities have also arrested seven people it suspects of helping militants involved in attacks, a judiciary official said on Saturday. Ahmad Fazelian, a provincial judiciary official, said the seven, suspected of "providing support for the terrorist team", were detained in Fardis, about 50 kilometres west of Tehran, the judiciary's online news agency Mizan reported. On Friday, authorities announced the arrests of 41 suspects in connection with the twin Tehran attacks. Separately, the head of the judiciary in Fars province said seven people were detained in the southern Larestan area for possible ties to Daesh, Iran's ISNA news agency reported on Saturday. Tehran police said the car the attackers used on Wednesday was discovered on Saturday in the city centre. "The terrorists first went by car to the mausoleum and after dropping two of them off, went to the city centre to attack parliament," the police said in a statement published on state media.
  13. TEHRAN: The attackers who stormed Tehran´s parliament complex and the revolutionary leader´s shrine on Wednesday were Iranian nationals who had joined Daesh, a top official said. The six attackers "were Iranian and joined Daesh from some parts of Iran," said Reza Seifollahi, deputy secretary of Iran´s Supreme National Security Council, on state TV late Wednesday. 13 killed after militants strike heart of Tehran, Iran blames Saudis Attackers entered Iranian parliament and started shooting; another 'blew up' at Khomeini's mausoleum It was the first attack in Iran claimed by Daesh, which had threatened to step up its campaign in the country in recent months. Iran is a key fighting force against Daesh and other groups in Iraq and Syria.
  14. geo_embedgallery TEHRAN: Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini's mausoleum in Tehran on Wednesday, killing at least 13 people in an unprecedented assault that Iran's Revolutionary Guards blamed on regional rival Saudi Arabia. Daesh claimed responsibility and threatened more attacks against Iran's majority population, seen by the hardline militants as heretics. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted: "Terror-sponsoring despots threaten to bring the fight to our homeland. Proxies attack what their masters despise most: the seat of democracy." He did not explicitly blame any country but the tweet appeared to refer to comments made by Saudi Arabia?s deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, in May, saying that Riyadh would bring "the battle" for regional influence to Iran. Saudi Arabia denied any involvement in the Tehran attacks, but the assault further fuels tensions between Riyadh and Tehran as they vie for control of the Gulf and influence in the wider Islamic world. It comes days after Riyadh and other Muslim powers cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of backing Tehran and militant groups. They were the first attacks claimed by Daesh inside the tightly controlled Muslim country, one of the powers leading the fight against IS forces in nearby Iraq and Syria. The deputy head of Iran's National Security Council, Reza Seifollhai, told state TV late on Wednesday that the attackers were people from Iran who had joined Daesh. Iranian police said they had arrested five suspects Armed men launched two attacks in Iran's capital on Wednesday morning, killing a guard at the parliament and wounding several people in the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini. Photo: Iranian news agency Mizan Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said: "These fireworks have no effect on Iran. They will soon be eliminated." "They are too small to affect the will of the Iranian nation and its officials," state TV quoted him saying. The powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps accused Riyadh of being behind the attacks and vowed to seek revenge. "This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the US president (Donald Trump) and the (Saudi) backward leaders who support terrorists. The fact that Daesh has claimed responsibility proves that they were involved in the brutal attack," a Guards statement said. Trump said in a statement that he prayed for the victims of the attacks but added that "states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote." The US State Department and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres both condemned the attacks. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said he did not know who was responsible for the attacks and said there was no evidence Saudi extremists were involved. DRESSED AS WOMEN Attackers dressed as women burst through parliament's main entrance, deputy interior minister Mohammad Hossein Zolfaghari said, according to the Tasnim news agency. One of them detonated a suicide vest, he said. Police helicopters circled over parliament, with snipers on its rooftop. Within five hours, four attackers were dead and the incident was over, Iranian media said. "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. Soon after the assault on parliament began, a bomber detonated a suicide vest near the shrine of the Islamic Republic's revered founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, a few kilometres south of the city, Zolfaghari said. A second attacker was shot dead, he said. The shrine is a main destination for tourists and religious pilgrims. "The terrorists had explosives strapped to them and suddenly started to shoot around," said the shrine's overseer, Mohammadali Ansari. By late evening, deputy interior minister Zolfaghari put the death toll at 13, with 43 wounded. The Intelligence Ministry said security forces had arrested another "terrorist team" planning a third attack. The National Security Council's Seifollhai said Iran had foiled 58 similar attacks, without specifying a time period. REGIONAL ANIMOSITY The attacks follow several weeks of heightened rhetorical animosity between Riyadh and Tehran. In unusually blunt remarks on May 2, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is Saudi defence minister and a son of King Salman, said he would protect his country from what he called Iranian efforts to dominate the Muslim world. Any struggle for influence between the Muslim kingdom and the revolutionary theocracy ought to take place "inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia," he said without elaborating. The next day Iran accused Saudi Arabia of seeking tension in the region, saying the prince had made "destructive" comments and it was proof that Riyadh supported terrorism. The attacks could also exacerbate tensions in Iran between newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani, who positions himself as a reformer, and his rivals among hardline clergy and the Revolutionary Guards. But Rouhani said Iran would be more united and more determined in the fight against regional terrorism and violence. "We will prove once again that we will crush the enemies' plots with more unity and more strength," he said. In an appeal for unity, Rouhani?s chief of staff, Hamid Aboutalebi, took to Twitter to praise the security services. "Applause to the power and firmness of our revolutionary guards, Basij (volunteer militia), police and security forces," he wrote. However, two senior government officials, who asked not to be named, said the attacks might prompt a blame game. "They (hardliners) are very angry and will use every opportunity to grow in strength to isolate Rouhani," said one. The other said the attacks would push Iran towards "a harsher regional policy". Militant attacks are rare in Tehran and other major cities although two militant groups, Jaish al-Adl and Jundallah, have been waging a deadly insurgency, mostly in remote areas, for almost a decade. Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan province, in the southeast on the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan, is home to the Balouch minority and has long been a hotbed of insurgents fighting the republic. Last year Iranian authorities said they had foiled a plot by militants to bomb targets in Tehran and other cities during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
  15. geo_embedgallery TEHRAN: Twelve people were killed in twin attacks on Iran´s parliament complex and the shrine of its revolutionary leader claimed by the Daesh militant group on Wednesday, its emergency services chief said. A total of 39 people were wounded in the two attacks, and rescue operations are continuing, Pir Hossein Kolivand said. Attackers raided Iran's parliament and set off a suicide bomb at the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran. The Iranian Intelligence Ministry said security forces had arrested a "terrorist team" planning a third attack, without giving further details. The attacks, targeting parliament and the shrine of the Republic's revered founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, took place less than a month after the re-election of President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate. Three assailants, one with a pistol and two with AK-47 assault rifles, attacked the parliament building in central Tehran, lawmaker Elias Hazrati told state television. Iran's state broadcaster IRIB reported that one attacker detonated a suicide vest there, though some other news agencies said the explosion might have been caused by grenades thrown by the assailants. Armed men launched two attacks in Iran's capital on Wednesday morning, killing a guard at the parliament and wounding several people in the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini. Photo: Iranian news agency Mizan Tasmin news agency said there were unconfirmed reports the attackers had taken four hostages inside the parliament building. Up to seven people died and several others were wounded, it added. About half an hour later, attackers opened fire at the mausoleum a few kilometers south of the city, wounding several members of the public, Iran's English-language Press TV said. One attacker detonated a suicide vest, one was killed by security forces and other assailants were arrested, the Governor of Tehran was quoted as saying by IRIB. "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. Rouhani retained power with a landslide victory over candidates supported by the hardline clergy and the Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the country's most powerful security force in charge of ensuring national security. Iranian TV said parliament had resumed, and broadcast footage of what it said was the opening session proceeding normally. Daesh claims responsibility for attacks Daesh claimed responsibility for attacks on Iran's parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini's shrine on Wednesday, the group's state news agency AMAQ said. "Fighters from [Daesh] attacked Khomeini's shrine and the Iranian parliament in Tehran," the news agency said. Another terrorist plot foiled The head of the anti-terrorism department in the Iranian Intelligence Ministry said they foiled a third terrorist plot and have arrested "a terrorist team", state broadcaster IRIB reported. Iran's intelligence ministry has also asked people to avoid public transport, according to IRIB.