VIDEO: Iranian students storm British Embassy in Tehran

Here and Now

In the wake of protests in Tehran and an Iranian decision to reduce ties with the United Kingdom, militant students in the middle east country have stormed the British embassy, the BBC is reporting.

Reuters news service said the embassy staff fled protesters via a back door, though British officials in London said they were still urgently trying to track down staff and ensure their safety.

Citing Mehr News Agency, in Iran, Reuters said six British Embassy staffers have been taken hostage in a raid on another compound located in northern Tehran, while the main embasy building remains occupied. Mehr removed the report of hostages being taken from its website without explanation. There was no immediate confirmation either way.

According to the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph, The Muslim Students Followers of the Supreme Leader have issued a statement, purportedly written in blood, claiming responsibility for the attack.

The statement, according to The Telegraph, reads:

Our people are not prepared to be humiliated any more under any circumstances and prefer a red death to a condemned life of misery. We are ready to be killed for our aims.

They have referred to the embassy as “another nest of spies that must be shown our wrath and hatred towards it”.

They say the date of the action has been deliberately chosen to coincide with the fist anniversary of the assassination of Majid Shahriari, the nuclear scientist killed last year in a bomb attack.

According to the BBC, protesters “have removed the British flag, burnt it and replaced it with the Iranian flag.” They’re also accused of breaking windows and waving around a framed picture of Queen Elizabeth II, the nation’s current monarch. Britain closed its embassy in Tehran during the overthrow of the Shah in the 1970s. It reopened the embassy in 1988, only to close it again. Normal relations where established in 1998.

After two hours, the BBC said, Iranian police regained control of the embassy grounds.

Iranian security forces are attempting to eject the protesters, who are currently burning documents, from the building, Telegraph reported.

The raid happened in the aftermath of a large protest against the United Kingdom, which has levied U.S.-backed sanctions against Iran in response to it’s still growing nuclear program. According to the Associated Press, on Sunday, the Iranian parliament endorsed a bill that will reduce diplomatic relations between Iran and the U.K. in response to those sanctions.

Iran maintains that it’s nuclear program is for strictly peaceful purposes.

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