Published: 29 November, 2011, 16:55
Iranian protesters break into the British embassy in Tehran on November 29, 2011 (AFP Photo / ATTA KENARE)
Several dozen Iranian students have stormed the UK embassy in Tehran, chanting “death to England” and bringing down the British flag.
Reports by the Mehr news agency that six UK staff had been taken hostage when students raided a north Tehran diplomatic compound were withdrawn shortly after they were posted. No explanation was given for the report, nor its removal.
Iranian police have reportedly used water cannons to push the protesters back from the embassy’s main entrance and force them to climb down from the gate.
The police have managed to take control of the rally and forced all but some 50 protesters to leave the territory of the embassy.
Reinforcements were called to the scene, including heavily armed riot police. There were reports of clashes between protesters and police.
Iranian riot policemen try to prevent hardline students from approaching the British embassy during a protest in Tehran on November 29, 2011 (AFP Photo / ATTA KENARE)
Earlier a group of students climbed over the embassy’s gate, rushed to the building and started showering it with stones and petrol bombs. Some of the protesters managed to get inside the building and were reported to be throwing documents from the windows.
Meanwhile, a separate group of protesters broke into another British embassy compound and seized classified documents, official Irna news agency reported.
Protesters also were burning documents seized from the embassy’s offices, Mehr News Agency reported.
The protesters chanted “Down with Britain”, “Down with America”, “Down with Israel” and “Students are Awake and Hate Britain,” according to Fars news agency.
One of the protesters was seen climbing the wall with a portrait of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II that was apparently looted from the embassy.
The British government has confirmed “a serious incursion” at UK embassy in Tehran and asked Iranian government to make every effort to end the crisis immediately.
Iranian protestrrs break into the British embassy in Tehran on November 29, 2011 (AFP Photo / ATTA KENARE)
Britain’s Foreign Office is “outraged” by the incursion by a “significant number of demonstrators” into the British embassy in Tehran, the BBC reports.
Tuesday’s protest was initially staged as a peaceful one, as thousands gathered to commemorate the anniversary of Iranian nuclear scientist Majid Shahriari’s death. According to the Iranian government he was murdered in a joint operation by Israel’s Mossad and UK’s MI6.
This siege comes two days after Iran downgraded the diplomatic and trade ties with UK. That was done in response to earlier UK government’s decision to tighten economic sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program.
Just about a month ago, on November 4, Iran marked the anniversary of the 1979 seizure of the US embassy with thousands of Iranians chanting “death to America” in front of what they call “the den of spies.”
On November 4, 1979, revolutionary-minded Iranian students stormed the US embassy and took 52 diplomats hostage in support of the Islamic Revolution. The US citizens were held hostage for 444 days up to January 20, 1981.
This conflict resulted in breaking of all diplomatic and economic ties between the countries for more than three decades.