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Azerbaijan Evacuates Embassy and Suspends Diplomatic Activities in Tehran

By Timucin Turksoy January 30, 2023

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Iran police officers in front of the Azerbaijan embassy in Tehran, January 27, 2023 / Fatemeh Bahrami / Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The government of Azerbaijan has evacuated staff from the country's embassy in Iran following the recent deadly terrorist act.

The aircraft carrying the staff members, their families, and the body of Orkhan Asgarov, the Chief Security Officer at the embassy, who was killed during an armed attack on Friday, arrived in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku at around 10 pm on Sunday.

Khalaf Khalafov, Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, said that diplomatic activities at the embassy in Tehran have been completely suspended, however, a few employees remained in the Iranian capital to safeguard the embassy building and properties.

“We have a Consulate General in Tabriz. The complete suspension of the diplomatic activity of the embassy in Tehran does not apply to the activities of our Consulate General,” Khalafov told local media on Sunday. “Many of our citizens are in Iran. If they also need help, they can contact the Consulate General in Tabriz."

The fences around the embassy’s empty building were seen to have been closed in photos that went viral on Sunday.

In the meantime, Khalafov added that Iran as a state is responsible for the terrorist incident and its serious consequences based on the relevant articles of the Vienna Convention.

“Of course, it is a very responsible decision to stop the activity of an embassy, a diplomatic mission in any country. But you should know that we have brought to the attention of the Iranian side that we do not have confidence, trust, and faith in the Iranian side regarding the protection of our embassy and the safety of our employees working in the embassy,” Khalafov said.

Khalafov added that the incident at the embassy on Friday was the outcome of Iran’s indifference towards Azerbaijan’s constant calls for strengthening security measures at the embassy, given the existing threats against Azerbaijan’s diplomatic missions in the country.

The fatal attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran was committed by an Iranian national, Yasin Hosseinzadeh, on Friday morning. The gunman, armed with a Kalashnikov rifle, broke into the embassy’s building and killed an Azerbaijani security officer. The gunman also managed to wound two others until he was stopped by the embassy’s security staff member after a violent scuffle.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and government officials have strongly condemned the terrorist act and demanded that the Iranian government investigate and bring the culprit to justice.

Iran’s Ambassador to Azerbaijan Seyyed Abbas Mousavi was summoned to Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry where the Iranian authorities were strongly demanded to launch a thorough investigation of the armed attack, bring the perpetrator to justice, identify and punish other participants involved in the organization and commission of the crime.

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi called his Azerbaijani counterpart President Aliyev on Saturday to offer his condolences and assure that relevant institutions have been working on “various dimensions of the incident”, Iran’s Tasnim news agency reported.