12 dead after attacks in Iran
ISIS says it's behind coordinated attacks in Teheran, storming Parliament and Khomeini's mausoleum
TEHERAN Gunmen and suicide bombers stormed Iran's Parliament and the shrine of its revolutionary leader yesterday, killing 12 people in the country's first attacks that was claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Dozens of people were wounded in the attacks, which ended after a standoff lasting several hours as the gunmen holed up in parliamentary office buildings.
ISIS released a video of the attackers from inside the building via its Amaq propaganda agency - a rare claim of responsibility while an attack was still going on.
Police said all the attackers had been killed by around 3pm (6.30pm, Singapore time), some five hours after it started.
The Sunni jihadists of ISIS consider Shiite Iran to be apostates, and Teheran 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 Teheran, killing a security guard and another person, according to ISNA news agency.
An interior ministry official said they were dressed as women and entered through the visitors' entrance.
At roughly the same time, a team of three or four assailants entered the grounds of the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led the 1979 Islamic revolution, killing a gardener and wounding several other people.
Iran's emergency services said a total of 12 people were killed and 39 wounded in the two attacks.
Two of the attackers at the shrine, one of them a woman, blew themselves up, while another detonated a suicide vest on the fourth floor of the parliamentary office building.
A picture on social media showed police helping staff members escape through windows.
Large crowds gathered around cordons to watch as police struggled to disperse them.
Parliament was in session as the attacks unfolded and members were keen to show they were undeterred, continuing with regular business.
Some posted selfies of themselves looking calm, even as gun battles raged in surrounding office buildings and snipers took position on nearby rooftops.
Speaker Ali Larijani dismissed the attacks, saying they were a "trivial matter" and that security forces were dealing with them.
An official at Khomeini's mausoleum in south Teheran said "three or four" people had entered via the western entrance and opened fire, according to Fars news agency.
It published photos showing the suicide bomber blowing herself up outside.
The intelligence ministry said there had been a third "terrorist" team that was neutralised before the attacks started.
The city was on lockdown, with streets blocked and parts of the metro closed. Journalists were kept away from the shrine by police.
Interior Minister Abdolrahman Fazli told ISNA he had convened a special meeting of the country's security council.
Jihadist groups have clashed frequently with security forces along Iran's borders with Iraq and Afghanistan, but the country has largely escaped attacks within its urban centres.
The intelligence ministry said last June that it had foiled a plot to carry out multiple bomb attacks in Teheran and around the country.
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".
Iran, the predominant Shiite power, has been helping both Iraq and President Bashar Al-Assad's regime in Syria to battle ISIS. - AFP