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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

U.K. Embassy stormed in Iran

A large number of protesters gather in front of riot police as
they prepare to break in to the British Embassy during an
anti-British demonstration in the Iranian capital - Tehran,
Iran on November 29, 2011.
Hard-line Iranian students stormed British diplomatic sites in Tehran on Tuesday, bringing down the Union Jack flag, burning an embassy vehicle and British flag, and throwing documents from windows in scenes, which can be described as, a reminiscent of the seizing of the U.S. compound in 1979.

The mob surged past riot police into the British Embassy complex - which they pelted with petrol bombs and stones - two days after Iran's parliament approved a bill that reduces diplomatic relations with Britain following London's support of recently upgraded Western sanctions on Tehran over its disputed nuclear program. Flames shot out of a sport utility vehicle parked outside the brick building.

Demonstrators outside the embassy also burned British flags and clashed with police as the rally, which had been organized by student groups at universities and seminaries.

An Iranian hard-line protester runs inside the British Embassy
as a diplomatic vehicle is set on fire by demonstrators.
Less than two hours later, police appeared to regain control of the site. However, the official IRNA news agency said about 300 protesters entered the British ambassador's residence in another part of the city and replaced British flags with Iranian ones. The British Foreign Office harshly denounced the melee and said Iran has a "clear duty" under international law to protect diplomats and offices. "We are outraged by this," said the statement. "It is utterly unacceptable and we condemn it."

It said a "significant number" of protesters entered the compound and caused vandalism, but gave no other details on damage or whether diplomatic staff was inside the embassy, although the storming occurred after business hours.

Video of the violent protest that stormed the UK Embassy in Iran.

The semiofficial Mehr news agency said embassy staff had left the compound before the mobs entered, but it also said those who occupied the area had taken six staff as hostages. It did not give their nationalities and the report was later removed from the website without elaboration.

Iranian protesters break the windows of a British Embassy
building in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011.
The protesters broke through after clashing with anti-riot police and chanting for its takeover. "Death to England," some cried in the first significant assault of a foreign diplomatic area in Iran in years. More protesters poured into the compound as police tried to clear the site.

Smoke rose from some areas of the embassy grounds and the British flag was replaced with a banner in the name of 7th century Shiite saint, Imam Hussein. Occupiers also tore down pictures of Queen Elizabeth II.

The occupiers called for the closure of the embassy calling it a "spy den" - the same phrase used after militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and held 52 hostages for 444 days. In the early moments of the siege, protesters tossed out papers from the compound and hauled down the U.S. flag. Washington and Tehran have no diplomatic relations since then.

Iranian protesters enter the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran.
The rally outside the British Embassy, which took place on a main street in Tehran downtown, included protesters carrying photographs of nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari, who was killed last year in an attack that Iran blamed on Israeli and British spy services.

State Television reported that another group of hard-line students gathered at the gate of British ambassador's residence in norther Tehran, at the same time.

Britain's Foreign Office said it was in contact with embassy officials. Officials were still checking on the well-being of workers and diplomats, a spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity in line with standing policy. It also warned its citizens in Iran to "stay inside and keep a low profile."

The U.S. also released a statement condemning the embassy storming. "We urge Iran to fully respect its international obligations, to condemn the incident, to prosecute the offenders, and to ensure that no further such incidents take place either at the British Embassy or any other mission in Iran."

Iranian protesters break into the British embassy in Tehran.
More than 20 Iranian protesters stormed the English
embassy, removing the mission's flag and ransacking offices. 
Tensions with the British date back to the 19th century when the Persian monarchy gave huge industrial concessions to London, which later included significant control over Iran's oil industry. But they have become increasingly strained as the West accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, which a charge Iran denies.

In recent years, Iran was angered by Britain's decision in 2007 to honor author Salman Rushdie with a knighthood.

Rushdie went into hiding after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a 1989 fatwa, or religious edict, ordering Muslims to kill the author because his novel "The Satanic Verses" allegedly insulted Islam.

Iranian riot police stand guard as protesters gather outside the
British embassy. 
The decision was made shortly after Iran detained 15 British sailors and marines in March 2007 for allegedly entering the country's territorial waters in the Gulf - a claim Britain denies. The 15 were released after nearly two weeks in captivity.

In 2006, angry mobs burned the Danish flag and attacked Danish and other Western embassies in Tehran in protest to the reprinting of a cartoon deemed insulting the Prophet Muhammad in the Nordic country's newspapers.

Additional Photos

Iranian protesters break the windows of a British Embassy building.
UK embassy windows were smashed by Iranian protesters.
Iranian mob enters the British Embassy.
Iranian protesters break into the British Embassy.
Iranian protesters take down the British flag as they break into the embassy
in Tehran.
Iranian protesters taking down the British flag.
Iranian protesters gather outside the British embassy as some break into it.
Iranian protesters gather outside the British embassy as some break into it
and bring down the British flag.
Iranian protesters burn the British flag outside the British embassy.
An Iranian Basij militia member throws stones towards the building of the
British embassy.
Iranian protesters wave a flag that reads "Oh Hussein", referring to the
grandson of Prophet Mohammed, as they stand on the wall of the embassy
 in Tehran.
Iranian riot policemen try to prevent hard-line students from approaching the
British embassy during a protest in Tehran, Iran.
An Iranian hard-line protester is seen inside the British Embassy as a
diplomatic vehicle is set on fire by demonstrators who stormed the mission.
Protesters break in to the British Embassy during an anti-British demonstration
in the Iranian capital.
An Iranian hard-line protester break into the British Embassy in Tehran.
Protesters carry the royal coat of arms after breaking into the British embassy
during an anti-British demonstration in the Iranian capital.
Iranian Protesters carrying the royal coat of arms.
Iranian riot police try to prevent hard-line students from breaking into the
British embassy during a protest outside the mission in Tehran.
Police standing amidst paper strewn across the ground, holding protesters
behind a barrier as others climb a security gate following a break into the
British Embassy during an anti-British demonstration in the Iranian capital
on November 29, 2011.


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