Gunmen and suicide bombers have carried out apparently coordinated attacks on Iran’s parliament and the tomb of revolutionary founder Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran, killing a number of people.
A security guard and one other person were killed when four gunmen burst into Tehran’s parliament complex with rifles and a pistol, according to the ISNA news agency. One of the attackers blew himself up on the fourth floor of the parliament office building as the siege continued.
Tasnim news agency reported that seven people including a guard have been killed and four people taken hostage, citing sources on the ground. This information had not been confirmed by security sources, Tasnim said.
State TV broadcaster Irib said four attackers including a suicide bomber were involved in the attack on parliament. An MP told Irib they were armed with rifles and a pistol. News agencies said people had been shot after the gunmen entered via the north entrance.
Journalists reported on social media that MPs had been taken hostage and that the attackers continued to shoot at people outside the building.
Iranian state media said police helicopters were circling over the parliament building and that all mobile phone lines from inside were disconnected. 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, where a session had been in progress.
About half an hour after the initial attack at parliament, an armed man entered at the western entrance of the tomb and opened fire before blowing himself up with a suicide vest, the site’s head of public relations, Ali Khalili, told the IRNA news agency. The mausoleum is in southern Tehran, about 12 miles from the parliament building.
ILNA said five people had been injured and that security forces were dismantling a bomb. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks, which prompted the interior ministry to call for an urgent security meeting. Gun ownership in the country is strictly controlled.
Shia Iran has been singled out as a target by Sunni jihadis, including Islamic State, but has largely escaped attacks within its urban centres. Iran provides ground forces to fight Isis and other rebel groups in Syria and Iraq.
Isis published a rare video in Persian in March, warning that it “will conquer Iran and restore it to the Sunni Muslim nation as it was before”. The group and other extremists consider Shias to be apostates, and the video accuses Iranians of persecuting Sunnis over the centuries.
Militant groups are also known to operate in Iran’s south-eastern Sistan-Baluchistan province, which borders Pakistan and has a large Sunni community.
Jaish-ul Adl (Army of Justice), which Tehran accuses of links with Al-Qaida, has carried out several armed attacks inside Iranian territory in recent years. Khomeini launched the Islamic revolution in 1979 and was Iran’s leader for 10 years.