In a press briefing on Monday, the Azerbaijani foreign ministry’s spokesperson Aykhan Hajizade gave a detailed insight into the chronological order, undisclosed motifs of terrorist attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Iran, as well as the inaction of the Iranian police to prevent the armed offensive.
According to him, Tehran’s police did not react to the bloody incident despite the armed assailant’s violent behavior in front of the embassy before breaking into the building.
“At 08:32 [on January 27], immediately after embassy staff entered through the main entrance of the Embassy’s administrative building, the terrorist deliberately crashed his vehicle at high speed into the Embassy service vehicle parked in front of the Embassy building. The terrorist, taking advantage of the Embassy staff member reacting to the resulting noise and opening the door of the Embassy, took an automatic rifle from his vehicle, gestured to the Iranian police officer posted at the entrance, and immediately entered the embassy building while opening fire,” Hajizade said.
“At 08:34, 2 minutes after the terrorist entered the embassy, an Iranian police vehicle arrived at the embassy, but after a few seconds of conversation with a police officer posted at the entrance, it left the area.”
Hajizade noted that the terrorist entered the embassy by force, caused chaos inside by continuous gunshots for four minutes, killed embassy staff member Orkhan Asgarov and seriously wounded another staff member Mahir Imanov. Hajizade added that Vasif Taghiyev, a security officer, engaged the terrorist in hand-to-hand combat and called for help to neutralize him. An Iranian police officer posted at the entrance did not intervene in the incident and left his post.
The inaction of the Iranian police, according to the ministry’s spokesperson, encouraged the assailant to renew the attack on the embassy after he was pushed out by the embassy’s security officer Vasif Taghiyev. This time, he resorted to a sledgehammer to break the door.
“Seeing that the entrance door was strong and it was difficult to open it with rifle fire, the terrorist tried to break the door with a heavy mallet taken from the trunk of his car and entered the Embassy for the second time with the intent to kill diplomats and their family members. V. Taghiyev threw a fire extinguisher at the terrorist who, while firing from his weapon, tried to go up to the second floor of the Embassy, injuring him in the head (this moment was not depicted by the surveillance cameras), and as a result, the terrorist was forced to leave the building,” Hajizade said.
After leaving the embassy’s building, the terrorist gestured to individuals standing in the distance and tried to set the service car of the diplomatic mission on fire with a “Molotov cocktail”, however he accidentally set himself on fire and at this time police immediately intervened to extinguish the fire, according to Hajizade. The police did not hurry to arrest the terrorist, started talking to him, and “did not treat him like a criminal”. He wandered around the area for some time and started threatening and insulting the diplomats of the Azerbaijani embassy, saying "I will kill all of you". The terrorist freely approached the mallet which he used to break down the Embassy building’s door, retrieved it, and placed it in his vehicle. Later, he again wanted to attack the embassy’s security officer, who came down.
“Only afterward the police handcuffed the terrorist, put him in a car, and left the area. At this time, an unknown person with a mask on his face took unknown items from the terrorist's car and left the area,” the spokesperson said.
The fact that the terrorist brought with him an automatic rifle and a full spare magazine, a "Colt" pistol, a "Molotov cocktail", a sledgehammer, and other tools to the scene of the incident, along with the inaction of the Iranian police give grounds for presuming that the incident was planned in advance.
The fatal attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran was committed by an Iranian national, Yasin Hosseinzadeh, on January 27 morning. The gunman, armed with a Kalashnikov rifle, broke into the embassy’s building and killed an Azerbaijani security officer. He also managed to wound two others until he was stopped by the embassy’s security staff member after a violent scuffle.
Meanwhile, the Iranian authorities announced “family affairs” behind the attack, claiming the armed assailant allegedly came to the embassy to save “his wife” who he was convinced was inside the building.
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.
Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov said Iran as a state is responsible for the terrorist incident and its serious consequences based on the relevant articles of the Vienna Convention. He added that the incident at the embassy was the outcome of Iran’s indifference toward Azerbaijan’s constant calls for strengthening security measures at the embassy, given the existing threats against Azerbaijan’s diplomatic missions in the country.
Diplomatic activities at the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran have been completely suspended following the incident, however, a few employees remained in the Iranian capital to safeguard the embassy building and properties.