A guard has been killed in an attack on Azerbaijan’s embassy in Iran, the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says, adding that it will evacuate its diplomatic staff.
“The attacker broke through the guard post, killing the head of security with a Kalashnikov assault rifle,” it said.
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Friday’s attack in Tehran also injured two guards, the Azerbaijani ministry said. An investigation has been launched.
President Ilham Aliyev called the assault on his country’s embassy a “terrorist act” and demanded a swift investigation.
“We demand that this terrorist act be investigated and the terrorist be punished,” Aliyev said in statement. He added that an attack against a diplomatic mission was “unacceptable.”
The incident comes amid months-long tensions between the neighbouring nations.
In a strongly worded statement, the Azerbaijani ministry said a recent “anti-Azerbaijan campaign” in Iran had encouraged the gunman. It also accused authorities in Tehran of long ignoring Baku’s calls to bolster security at its embassy.
“Unfortunately, the latest bloody terrorist act demonstrates the serious consequences of the failure to give the necessary attention to our constant appeals in this regard,” it said.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani “strongly condemned” the attack, according to state TV, saying the issue was under investigation with “high priority and sensitivity.”
Police in Tehran said they have arrested a suspect and are investigating the gunman’s motive.
There were no indications from statements from Iranian officials that the attack was politically motivated.
The suspect entered the embassy with two children and may have been driven by “personal issues”, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, citing the police chief.
However, surveillance footage shared by the Iranian state-owned news outlet Press TV showed what appeared to be the gunman entering the embassy alone and firing inside the building before scuffling with one man who tried to stop him.
The Iranian judiciary’s Mizan news agency quoted Iranian prosecutor Mohammad Shahriari as saying the gunman’s wife had disappeared in April after a visit to the embassy. Shahriari added the man believed his wife was still in the embassy at the time of the attack.
Turkey, which has close ties with Azerbaijan, condemned the “treacherous attack” and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. “Azerbaijan is never alone,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter.
Relations between Baku and Tehran have traditionally been sour as Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan is a close ally of Turkey, Iran’s historical rival.
Iran, home to millions of ethnic Azerbaijanis, has long accused Baku of fomenting separatist sentiments in the country.
Iran is also suspicious of Azerbaijan’s military cooperation with Israel, an arms supplier to Baku, saying Israel could potentially use Azerbaijani territory as a bridgehead against Iran.