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FACTDROP: Death to England! Iran mob storms British Embassy as terrified staff cower from rioters and police stand by


Death to England! Iran mob storms British Embassy as terrified staff cower from rioters and police stand by

Πηγή: Mailonline
Nov 30 2011

David Cameron expressed outrage last night after hardline Iranian protesters stormed the British Embassy in Tehran and tried to take staff hostage.

A frenzied mob of militant students ransacked the main building and a smaller diplomatic compound in the city.

They lobbed petrol bombs, smashed windows, stole classified documents, torched the Union flag and even tore up a portrait of the Queen.

Protesters break into the British Embassy and tear down the Union Jack. Some then proceeded to ransack offices

Clashes: Students wearing some form of purple and green bandanna with Islamic writing on it push against riot police who had been protecting the embassy

A car goes up in flames as an Iranian protester fearing an explosion flees across the road inside the British Embassy

Up in smoke: Protesters inside the British Embassy compound watch as an embassy car burns
The rioters also chanted 'Death to England' and threw rocks. One man held up a Union flag with a skull and cross bones on it.

The embassy came under siege despite being guarded by Iranian police and private security guards.

One of those who took part in the attacks said they were driven by their 'hatred' of Britain. Others denounced the embassy as a 'den of spies'.

Yesterday a furious Prime Minister denounced the attack as 'outrageous and indefensible'.

Disrespect: An angry student tears a picture of the Queen, while right, another man in glasses and with a beard holds up-side-down a picture of Queen Elizabeth

A protester holds up a banner as his fellow Iranians wave flags and shout insults at Britain

Hundreds of students surge through the gates of the British embassy today as anti-English feelings reached boiling point

Breaking in: Dozens of protesters enter the gate of the embassy, throwing rocks, petrol bombs and burning documents looted from offices

'The failure of the Iranian government to defend British staff and property was a disgrace,' Mr Cameron said.

'We hold the Iranian government responsible for its unacceptable failure to protect diplomats in line with international law.

'The Iranian government must immediately ensure the continued safety of our staff, return all property and secure the compound immediately.

Masked demonstrators hurl embassy papers into the crowd. Right, a student uses a metal bar to strike the British emblem

Students from some universities and seminaries burned British flags as they clashed with police, while others held flags proclaiming their hatred of Britain... while not leaving out the U.S. and Israel

Flash point: Iranian protesters burn the Union Jack outside the embassy in Tehran

Fury: A Union Jack flag is symbolically burned by a jeering crowd of Iranians

Dressing down: A protester kicks away the coat of arms from the embassy building

Shattered glass: Iranians have long been suspicious of the UK in large part due to Britain's long-held influence on its rulers and economy prior to the Islamic revolution

On the loose: Rampaging demonstrators use whatever they can find to smash up property


America severed ties with Iran within months of the storming of the U.S. embassy in 1979.

Iran also swiftly expelled Israeli diplomats, handing their embassy over to the PLO.That left Britain as the most hated Western power to have a functioning embassy in Iran. The British embassy was shut down three times in the turbulent decade that followed the Islamic revolution.

It re-opened fully in 1988. But a year later diplomatic ties were broken again over Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie.

In the late 1990s Britain spent £1.3million renovating the embassy. The Rushdie affair had been resolved and London hoped for better relations with Iran.

But that hope dimmed when moderate president Mohammad Khatami was succeeded by the anti-Western Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

'Those responsible for this criminal attack must be prosecuted. The Iranian Government must recognise that there will be serious consequences for failing to protect our staff.'

Whitehall sources said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime would be hit with 'robust and resolute' sanctions as early as today when ministers update the Commons.

Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke to Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi in the 'strongest terms' over his government's 'very serious failure' to protect the British Embassy.

The United Nations, U.S., France and Russia all joined in condemnation of the incident.

Last night Mr Hague said all embassy staff and their families were safe.

He played down reports that staff had been held hostage, saying the situation had been 'confusing'.

But insiders said that at one point employees were holed up in a compound surrounded by several hundred marauding rioters.

Mr Cameron chaired a meeting of the Government's Cobra emergency committee and the Iranian charge d'affaires to London was summoned to the Foreign Office to be rebuked.

Iran said it 'regretted' the attacks on the British Embassy and the Gulhak Garden diplomatic compound several miles away in northern Tehran.

Iranian riot police stand guard as protesters gather outside the British Embassy in Tehran. A handful of demonstrators managed to break their rank

An Iranian Basij militia member throws stones towards the embassy building as riot police look on


The British embassy in Tehran is an oasis of green tranquillity in the dusty centre of the teeming Iranian capital.

But when hard-line students threw stones at the symbol of British power, it was far from the first time the building had come under attack.

In November 1978 - a turbulent year before the Islamic Revolution - the embassy was ransacked by a crowd angry at Britain's support for the Shah of Iran.

The mob forced open the high gates, despite the gallant efforts of a lone junior diplomat to keep them out, then set fire to the Chancery building, but no one was hurt.

The embassy was shut down three times in the decade that followed the Shah's overthrow in 1979, re-opening in 1988.

A year later diplomatic ties were broken off again over the fatwah on Salman Rushdie, finally being restored at ambassador level in 1998.

In the early 1980s a narrow street flanking the embassy was renamed after the IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, although a new street sign now misspells it as Babi Sandz street. Taxi drivers, however, still refer to it by its old name - Churchill Street.But Whitehall officials said the protesters could not have acted without the approval of President Ahmadinejad's repressive regime.

A senior source said: 'Things like this don't happen in Tehran without part of the Iranian state giving authority or permission. If they had wanted to put a stop to it, they would have.'

The attack was the most serious assault on foreign diplomatic missions in Iran since the seizing of the U.S. Embassy compound in 1979 when 52 Americans were held captive for 444 days.

The demonstrations were reported to have been staged by a new pro-regime group called The Muslim Students Followers of the Supreme Leader. They were protesting against tough new financial sanctions imposed by London last week over Iran's nuclear programme.

Iran retaliated on Monday by passing a law to expel the British ambassador, Dominick Chilcott, who took up his post only last month.

Some 15 British nationals are stationed at the embassy. They had been confident the protest would pass peacefully because scores of Iranian anti-riot police were deployed outside. But security forces stood idly by when protesters, chanting 'The Embassy of Britain should be taken over' and 'Death to England', swarmed over the gates.

Embassy staff fled the main compound by the back door before mobs broke in. Smoke rose from the grounds after a car was driven in and set alight.

It is understood Mr Chilcott was at the embassy when it was attacked. His residence and offices are on the compound.

He was praised by Mr Cameron for handling a 'dangerous situation with calm and professionalism'.

After police regained control of the main site about 300 protesters swarmed into the Gulhak Gardens complex.

The U.S. last night condemned the attack 'in the strongest terms' with President Obama urging the Iranian government to deal with those responsible.

Russia, Iran's closest ally, described the assault as 'unacceptable and deserving condemnation'.

Earlier in the day, Iranian police had prepared for a demonstration but protesters still managed to break their way through

A protester ducks on the ground after apparently being beaten by riot police outside the British Embassy

Booty: One protester seemed to forget his disgust at Western culture when he emerged from the British Embassy with a poster of the U.S. film Pulp Fiction

Motion: The Iranian parliament agreed to expel British ambassador Dominic Chilcott by 171 votes to four.

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