The Cable

Islamic State Attacks in Iran Leave 12 Dead, Over 40 Injured

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack likely to deepen the rifts in a region already reeling from a divisive week.

TEHRAN, IRAN - JUNE 7: A child is lowered from a window in the Iranian parliament building following an attack on June 7, 2017 in Tehran, Iran. An assault on the parliament building is now reportedly over following hours of audible gunfire. (Photo by Omid Vahabzadeh/Getty Images)
TEHRAN, IRAN - JUNE 7: A child is lowered from a window in the Iranian parliament building following an attack on June 7, 2017 in Tehran, Iran. An assault on the parliament building is now reportedly over following hours of audible gunfire. (Photo by Omid Vahabzadeh/Getty Images)

Twin assaults on the Iranian parliament and a nearby shrine rocked Tehran Wednesday morning in the country’s deadliest terror attack in over a decade. At least 12 people were killed and over 40 injured. A third attack was reportedly prevented, according to Iran’s Intelligence Ministry.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility, publishing what it claims is a video taken from inside Iran’s parliament. This would be the first terrorist attack the Sunni extremist group has purported to carry out in the Shiite-majority country, which (alongside Russia) is currently fighting the Islamic State in Syria.

However, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard — a branch of Iran’s army — said Saudi Arabia was behind the Wednesday morning attacks.

According to reports, gunmen, some wearing suicide vests, stormed Iran’s parliament building in Tehran at around 10:30am, taking hostages and shooting blindly.

Almost simultaneously, an assault took place at the tomb of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who died in 1989. Reports say at least one explosive was detonated, as gunmen attacked worshipers and tourists.

The attacks come just weeks after Iran’s presidential elections, and just as the regional rivalry between Iran and Persian Gulf states is heating up. On Monday, five Arab nations, and some of their allies, announced they were severing diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the Gulf state of funding Islamist extremism and deploring its relations with Iran. Saudi Arabia presented Qatar with certain impossible demands it says must be met before relations can be restored.

President Donald Trump also railed against Iran during his trip to Saudi Arabia, Tehran’s major regional rival. Iran, Trump said while feting the rulers of the country that provided 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, has “fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.”

On Tuesday, Trump took credit for the countries’ isolation of Qatar, suggesting that they had paid heed to his advice and suddenly taken a “hard line on funding extremism.”

Photo credit: OMID VAHABZADEH/Getty Images

Ruby Mellen is a fellow at Foreign Policy. @RubyMellen

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