In the latest sign of deteriorating relations with the West, around 20 Iranian protesters entered the British Embassy compound in Tehran chanting “death to England,” tearing down a British flag and ransacking offices, news reports said.
The episode came a day after Iran enacted legislation on Monday to downgrade relations with Britain in retaliation for intensified sanctions imposed by Western nations last week to punish the Iranians for their suspect nuclear development program. Britain promised to respond “robustly.”
The British Foreign Office in London said it was “aware of the reports” from Tehran about its embassy on Tuesday, but declined to comment further. There was no immediate word on the whereabouts of the embassy staff.
The Associated Press indentified the intruders as hard-line Iranian students, who were said to have burst into the building and thrown documents from windows. They also chanted: “The Embassy of Britain should be taken over.”
The episode was shown live on Iranian state television. The invaders threw stones at windows, and one was seen climbing over the high wall around the compound with an apparently looted portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. While some reports said the protesters clashed with riot police, other accounts said the authorities did nothing to prevent the attack.
While a small group of people entered the embassy, hundreds more gathered outside demanding the immediate departure of the British ambassador.
It was not immediately clear if the episode was supposed to mirror the storming of the American Embassy in 1979 that led to the enduring breach in diplomatic relations with Washington.