State media in Iran said that students obtained ‘secret spy documents’ from the UK embassy offices [Reuters]
Dozens of young Iranian men have entered buildings inside the British embassy compound in Tehran, throwing rocks, petrol bombs and burning documents looted from the offices.
The semi-official Fars news agency said security forces were trying to eject the protesters, who were a minority from a larger group staging an anti-UK demonstration outside the compound.
The agency referred to the protesters as students who were chanting “Death to America”, “Death to England” and “Death to Israel” among other slogans.
Live TV pictures showed several of the people on top of the entry gate to the embassy, waving Islamic flags.
One protester was seen waving a framed picture of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II apparently found inside the compound.
The British foreign ministry issued a statement saying it was “outraged” by the situation.
“It is utterly unacceptable and we condemn it,” it said.
The Reuters news agency reported that embassy employees had fled the compound via a rear entrance and that Iranian riot police were trying to restore order.
Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Tehran, said that the police and various ministries had prior knowledge of the protest, which was organised by the student arm of the Basij armed group
“Any such action of this could scale can never be independent in the Islamic Republic. These gatherings are always approved by higher officials,” said Jabbari.
In an appearance on state television on Sunday, Sardar Mohamad Reza Naghdi, the commander of the Basij, said that the unit was “counting the moments” until it could strike against “Zionist forces”.
Jabbari said there a number of protesters had been taken into custody and that as of Tuesday evening, there was no official response from the Iranian government on how the protest unfolded.
The incident followed Britain’s imposition of new sanctions on the Islamic state last week over its nuclear programme.
London banned all UK financial institutions from doing business with their Iranian counterparts, including the Iran’s central bank, as part of a new wave of sanctions by Western countries.
The UK expects other countries to to follow its lead in imposing sanctions against Iran.
Foreign Secretary William Hague was speaking of a “robust” response to Iran’s move in reducing diplomatic ties with the UK when news of the protest outside the embassy in Tehran broke.
Iran’s Guardian Council approved a bill on Monday to downgrade Iran’s ties with the UK, one day after the Iranian parliament approved the measure, compelling the government to expel the British ambassador in retaliation for the sanctions.
In parliament in Tehran on Sunday, a politician had warned that Iranians angered by the sanctions could storm the
British embassy as they did to the US mission in 1979.