Iranian protesters stormed two British Embassy compounds in
Tehran on Tuesday, smashing windows, hurling petrol bombs and burning the
British flag during a rally to protest against sanctions imposed by Britain,
live Iranian television showed.
The attacks followed the rapid approval by Iran's Guardian
Council of a parliamentary bill compelling the government to expel the British
ambassador in retaliation for the sanctions, and warnings from a lawmaker that
angry Iranians could storm the British embassy as they did to the US mission in
Several dozen protesters broke away from a crowd of a few
hundred protesters outside the main embassy compound in downtown Tehran, scaled
the embassy gates and went inside. Iranian security forces appeared to do
little to stop them.
The semi-official Mehr news agency said protesters pulled
down the British flag, burned it, and put up the Iranian flag.
Inside, the demonstrators threw stones and petrol bombs. One
waved a framed picture of Queen Elizabeth, state TV showed.
The British Foreign Office said it was outraged by the
incursion into embassy.
It was not clear if British diplomats had been caught up in
the action, or had been harmed. Embassy staff fled protesters "by the back
door", the Mehr news agency said.
Demonstrators waved flags symbolising martyrdom and held up
portraits of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
A separate group of protesters broke into a second British
embassy compound in the north of the city, the IRNA state news agency said, and
seized "classified documents".
Riot police later moved in and mounted the embassy gates,
helping protesters climb back on the street outside, television pictures
showed, and began to slowly clear demonstrators.
The incident followed Britain's imposition of new sanctions
on the Islamic state last week over its nuclear programme.
London banned all British financial institutions from doing
business with their Iranian counterparts, including the Central Bank of Iran,
as part of a new wave of sanctions by Western countries.
In London, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain
expected other countries to follow its lead in imposing financial sanctions on
Iran and will take "robust" action if Tehran reduces their diplomatic
Hague was speaking in a parliamentary debate as news broke
of the incident in Tehran but he made no comment on it.
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