Gunman Attacks Azerbaijan Embassy in Tehran, Killing the Head of Security

An armed man stormed the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tehran on Friday, shooting dead the chief of security and wounding two guards, according to Iranian and Azerbaijani officials.

While Iranian officials blamed the assault by the man, who was armed with an assault rifle, on “personal motivations,” President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan called it a “terrorist act” and demanded a swift investigation. He identified the Azerbaijani man killed as First Lt. Orkhan Rivan.

A suspect, who was not identified, was arrested by the Iranian police after the attack.

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said that Iran had failed to address threats against the embassy in the past and that it would evacuate its entire mission from Tehran.

“There have been attempts to threaten our diplomatic mission in Iran before,” the ministry said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this latest bloody terrorist attack demonstrates the serious consequences of not showing proper sensitivity to our urgent appeals in this direction.”

The shooting comes as the perennially tense relationship between the two countries has been further strained by escalating tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Azerbaijan has long bristled at Iran’s support of Armenia in a long-simmering territorial conflict, and Iran is suspicious of Azerbaijan’s alliance with Turkey and of its close ties with Israel and the West.

The attack happened around 8 a.m. local time, when the gunman crashed his car in front of the embassy before storming the guard post and opening fire, according to the Iranian authorities. The attack was ended by the two guards who were also wounded.

“The police took action immediately and arrested the attacker, who is now under investigation,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman, Nasser Kanani, said in a televised statement, adding that an investigation would be carried out “with the highest priority and sensitivity until the details and scope of the attacker’s motivation become clear.”

Gen. Hossein Rahimi, the Iranian chief of police, said in a statement on Iranian television that the attack might have been personally motivated, according to the semiofficial news agency Tasnim. The general added that the gunman had entered the embassy with two young children.

However, CCTV footage from inside the embassy posted to social media and by BBC Farsi appears to show a lone assailant forcing his way in and opening fire, and then chasing two men who escape into another room. A third man rushes at the attacker in an apparent attempt to wrestle the gun away before the footage ends.

An initial investigation into the attack, as reported by the news agency Mizan, which is overseen by the Iranian judiciary, said that the gunman had claimed he was motivated by the disappearance of his wife, who had not returned home since she visited the embassy last spring.

Mr. Aliyev, the Azerbaijani president, said in a statement posted to Twitter, “I fiercely condemn the terrorist attack perpetrated against our embassy in Tehran today” and conveyed his condolences to the family of Lieutenant Rivan, “who lost his life defending the embassy and its staff.”

The Foreign Ministry of Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, said in a statement that it “deeply shares the pain of the Azerbaijani people” as it too has been targeted by “similar attacks in the past.” The statement added: “It is very important that those responsible for this heinous attack should be immediately apprehended and brought to justice.”

Leily Nikounazar contributed reporting.

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