(photo credit: AP)
Hundreds of students threw rocks and firecrackers at the British Embassy on Sunday, calling for the expulsion of the country's ambassador because of the standoff over Iran's capture of 15 British sailors and marines.
The demonstration stood in stark contrast to statements made Sunday by British government officials that they were looking for new ways to resolve the crisis peacefully.
Several dozen policemen prevented the protesters from entering the embassy compound, although a few briefly scaled a fence outside the facility's walls before being pushed back, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.
The protesters chanted "Death to Britain" and "Death to America" as they hurled stones into the courtyard of the embassy. They also shouted "the British spies should be tried."
In speeches made before the students turned on the compound, they demanded the Iranian government expel the British ambassador and close down the embassy, calling it a "den of spies."
They also advised Teheran not to release Faye Turney, the lone female sailor held captive, or show any flexibility until the British apologized for violating Iran's borders.
A British Foreign Office spokeswoman in London said the demonstration had not caused damage to the embassy and diplomats inside continued to work.
"There is a police presence outside and there is no risk to those inside," said the spokeswoman.
Before the protest took place, British government officials said they were examining new options for dialogue with Teheran, but refused to discuss a report by the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that a naval officer would be sent to Teheran as a special envoy to negotiate the return of the personnel.
The report claimed the official would deliver an assurance that British naval crews would never deliberately enter Iranian waters without permission.
Transport Minister Douglas Alexander told the British Broadcasting Corp.'s Sunday AM program that Britain was engaged in "exploring the potential for dialogue with the Iranians."