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Iran FM says personal motives, not terrorism, behind Azerbaijan embassy attack

Police stand guard in front of Azerbaijan's embassy in Tehran on January 27, 2023, following an armed attack. (Photo by Tasnim news agency)

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has condemned the Friday armed attack on Azerbaijan’s embassy in Tehran, saying the enemies should not be allowed to take advantage of the incident, which he said was not an act of terrorism.

“We should not allow this incident to have any adverse consequence on ties between the two countries,” Amir-Abdollahian said in a phone conversation with Azerbaijan Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov on Friday.

The Iranian foreign minister expressed his sympathy with Bayramov over the attack, which killed the head of the security service of the embassy and wounded two embassy guards earlier in the day.

He said the two countries’ security bodies can probe the incident in close cooperation to clarify its various aspects.

Later on Friday, Amir-Abdollahian visited those wounded at a hospital in Tehran.

After his visit, he held a joint press conference with the Azeri ambassador, during which he said Iran’s intelligence and security organizations believe the attack was not a “terrorist and organized operation,” but rather, it was carried out with personal motives.

“Immediately after the incident, the president issued a firm order to follow up the incident legally and judicially, and to conduct legal and judicial follow-ups on each and every one of those who may have been negligent in this matter,” he said.

Following the assault, Tehran police chief Brigadier General Hossein Rahimi said the gunman, who entered the Azerbaijani embassy and started shooting with a firearm, was arrested.

“In the initial investigation, the attacker stated that his motivation was personal and family problems,” Gen. Rahimi said, adding the man is an Iranian national married to an Azerbaijani woman.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raeisi also ordered a thorough investigation into the attack on Azerbaijan’s embassy in Tehran.

President Raeisi “ordered a full investigation” into the issue and “expressed condolences to the govt, people & family of the murdered diplomat & prayed for the recovery of the injured,” Mohammad Jamshidi, a political aide to the Iranian president, said in a post on his Twitter account on Friday.

Mohammad Shahryari, the caretaker of Tehran’s criminal court, said that during initial investigations, the assailant claimed that his wife went to the embassy around ten months ago and never returned.

Shahryari said that he has repeatedly gone to Azerbaijan’s embassy in Tehran but received no response. “I thought that my wife was present at the embassy but was not willing to meet me,” he quoted the assailant as saying.

‘I did it to save my wife’

Meanwhile, the gunman also said in an interview with the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) that he only wanted to “save his wife.”

“She must be able to leave the embassy of her own will, and if she doesn’t want to live with me, I’ll help her get her passport, and she’ll be free to go,” he said, under the apparent assumption that her wife was in the embassy.

Asked whether that was the only motive he had, he said, “Yes, I did it to save her.”

His daughter, however, said she tried to convince him that her mother was not in the embassy, “but he disagreed.”

“He said we were going to the embassy to get my mother out of there,” she said.

“My father started shooting in the embassy because of family issues and other things,” she said.

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