Several attackers stormed into Iran’s parliament and a suicide bomber targeted the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Wednesday, killing a security guard and wounding 12 other people in rare twin attacks, with the shooting at the legislature still underway.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks or if they were co-ordinated. The unusual attacks in Iran’s capital, Tehran, prompted the Interior Ministry to call for an urgent security meeting, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.
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.
State TV later said four attackers are involved in the parliament attack, and that eight people were wounded. It quoted lawmaker Elias Hazrati as saying the attackers were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles.
It also said a security guard was killed and four people 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.
In addition to being lethal, the attack on the shrine of Khomeini is symbolically stunning. As Iran’s first Supreme Leader, Khomeini is a towering figure in the country and was its revolutionary leader in the 1979 ouster of the shah.
Sunni extremists, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group, despise Shia-majority Iran and are at war with Tehran’s proxies in Syria and Iraq. Iran has also come under attack in the past by Arab insurgents. No one immediately claimed Wednesday’s attacks.