TEHRAN, Iran (CBSN) — The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claims two attacks in Tehran after several armed assailants stormed into the country’s parliament building and suicide bombers targeted the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Wednesday, with the shooting at the legislature still underway.
The local Tasnim news agency reported that seven people had been killed and four people were taken hostage in the attack on parliament. Citing sources on the ground and adding that the information hadn’t been confirmed by security personnel, Tasnim said the hostages were being held on the upper floors of the parliament building.
State broadcaster IRIB reported that one of the parliament attackers detonated a suicide vest on the fourth floor of the building amid the ongoing siege.
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.
Iran’s intelligence ministry said that the attacks had been coordinated by a terrorist group, and that a third attack had been foiled.
“This morning two terrorist groups attacked the parliament and Imam Khomeini’s shrine … Members of a third group were arrested before being able to carry out any attack,” state TV quoted the ministry as saying.
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 initial part of 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. Later, state TV reported a second suicide bomb detonation at the shrine.
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 of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) group, despise Shiite-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.