Britain downplays hostage crisis at embassy in Iran
Iranian Foreign Ministry says it regrets actions of riled-up demonstrators; Hague contradicts claims of 6 hostages.
By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
November 29, 2011 20:46
2 minute read.
Iranian demonstrators carry a British flag (R) 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi)
whereabouts of staff after protesters stormed the British embassy in
Tehran was confusing at times, British Foreign Secretary William Hague
said on Tuesday, but he contradicted reports that six embassy staff had
briefly been held hostage.
"There has been a confusing situation
at times as to the whereabouts of certain staff. I wouldn't use the term
hostage," Hague told reporters.
Iran body passes law expelling British
Western leaders demand Iran protect UK diplomats
Separately, a British government source said no
hostages were taken - as per reports by Iran's semi-official FARS news
agency - and said confusion had arisen because Iranian police had told
some embassy staff to stay where they were during the protest.
the only official response from the Islamic Republic over Tuesday's
incident at the British mission, Iran's Foreign Ministry said it regretted
the storming of two British diplomatic compounds in Tehran, according to
the students' news agency ISNA.
"The foreign ministry regrets
the protests that led to some unacceptable behaviors ... We respect and
we are committed to international regulations on the immunity and safety
of diplomats and diplomatic places," the statement said.
police on Tuesday secured the release of six employees of the British
embassy compound in northern Tehran who had reported been taken hostage
by hardline students earlier in the day, according to the semi-official
FARS news agency reported.
"Police freed the six people working for the British embassy in Qolhak garden," FARS said.
stormed two British Embassy compounds in Tehran, smashing windows,
hurling petrol bombs and burning the British flag in a protest against sanctions imposed by Britain, live Iranian television showed.
police clashed with the protesters who gathered in front of the British
embassy compound in central Tehran and fired tear gas to disperse the
crowd, the semi-official FARS news agency reported.
students at the embassy have been injured and security forces are trying
to force them out of the embassy. Some security forces have also been
injured in clashes with protesters," the report said.
attacks followed the rapid approval by Iran's Guardian Council of a
parliamentary bill compelling the government to expel the British
ambassador in retaliation for the sanctions, and warnings from a
lawmaker that angry Iranians could storm the British embassy as they did
to the US mission in 1979.
Several dozen protesters broke away
from a crowd of a few hundred protesters outside the main embassy
compound in downtown Tehran, scaled the embassy gates and went inside.
Iranian security forces appeared to do little to stop them.