A gunman has killed a security chief and injured two other people in an attack on the Azerbaijan embassy in Tehran. Azerbaijan has described the incident as an “act of terrorism” and has blamed Iran for failing to improve security despite repeated warnings.
The attack comes amid growing tensions between the two nations. Azerbaijan recently appointed its first ever ambassador to Israel, which has led to increased tensions between the two countries. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has previously criticized Iran’s treatment of its Azerbaijani minority.
“The gunman broke through the guard post, killing the head of security with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle,” Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ministry added Iran’s systematic “anti-Azerbaijan rhetoric” likely encouraged the attack.
In a separate statement on Twitter, President Aliyev demanded swift punishment for those involved in the “act of terrorism”.
— Ilham Aliyev (@presidentaz) January 27, 2023
Iranian police have arrested a suspect and are investigating the gunman’s motive. Surveillance footage shared by the Iranian state-owned news outlet Press TV showed the gunman entering the embassy alone and firing inside the building before scuffling with one man who tried to stop him.
Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran 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 inspiring separatist sentiments in the country. Iran is also suspicious of Azerbaijan’s military cooperation with Israel and to certain extent its warm relations with the United States and European Union.
In response to the attack, Azerbaijan has announced plans to evacuate embassy staff and their families from Iran.
The Foreign Ministry in Baku said Iranian authorities had failed to take measures to ensure the security of the embassy despite repeated warnings by Azerbaijan.