At least 12 people were killed and 42 injured in twin attacks on the Iranian capital Tehran on Wednesday morning. The attackers opened fire in the parliament building in Tehran, while other assailants targeted the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, where one attacker blew himself up. Photos and videos of the attack were shared on social media. The Islamic State (IS) group later claimed responsibility for the attacks. If the jihadist group’s role is confirmed, these would be the first attacks carried out by the group inside Iran.
Armed men stormed the Iranian parliament and opened fire. According to state television, one attacker blew himself up on the fourth floor of one of the two parliament buildings when special forces arrived. Gunfire can be heard in several videos filmed from outside the building.
People outside the building tried to follow what was happening.
Some MPs' wives were trapped on an upper floor of the parliament while the assailants carried out the attack. Photos of an armed man at a window of the building circulated on social media amid claims that he was one of the attackers. However his black clothing corresponds to the uniform of the parliament's security forces.
A number of people were evacuated by government security forces, including this child.
The official news agency Fars News published photos of security forces and of a "neutralised" explosive belt.
The Iranian parliament is composed of two main buildings. The attack occurred in the building that houses MPs' offices. The parliamentary chamber is located in the triangular building next door, and MPs continued their parliamentary session even while the attack was going on... a way of showing that the Islamic State group can't stand in the way of Iranian daily life. Members of parliament even posted selfies with big grins.
The IS group claimed the attack via its communications channel Amaq. A video filmed by one of the attackers in the parliament building shows a dead man.
In the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, who founded the Islamic Republic in 1979, one or several attackers opened fire, and one attacker blew himself up. According to an official Iranian news agency, five people were injured. One photo apparently showing the moment of the explosion circulated on social media.
And of course... some #Fakenews
The following photo was shared repeatedly on social media — but it actually shows an anti-terrorist training exercise by Iranian security forces in 2015.
This kind of attack is highly unusual in Tehran. The last time an attack of this sort was carried out was in the years following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, mostly carried out by the armed People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran.
"How were terrorists able to carry so much ammunition?"
Outside the main hall of the parliament on the second floor of the Pyramid is our newsroom. It has a vast view of the corridor between the two buildings. At first we were calm but after some time we saw that terrorists had reached this corridor. They began to shoot everywhere and some bullets reached the ceiling of the newsroom. We were frightened but we did not understand why they’d stopped there. I think security forces pushed them back and they were obliged to go back into the administrative building. I saw the corridor for a second and everywhere there was blood, shattered glass, and toppled furniture.
The security forces put a ladder going from the main hall in the parliament building to a balcony on the second floor in the Pyramid building, and we went and joined the MPs in the main hall.The ladder that was placed to help journalists and people in the parliament building to gather together before escaping.
Then, after a while — I really do not how long — we were able to get out of the building through a door just behind where the parliament speaker sits. Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari [the Iranian commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard] and Ali Larijani [Parliament speaker] personally accompanied us from the main hall to the outside of the parliament building.
Outside of the building people were talking and rumours flying everywhere. Many people were filming and did not care about orders from the police to evacuate the zone.
But clearly we all were totally shocked. We did not expect to see a terrorist attack in Tehran and definitely not in the parliament complex that is so well protected.
Journalists and people were asking questions, like: how did terrorists manage to carry that many weapons and that much ammunition to shoot for four hours?