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Shots Fired Again at British Embassy in Tehran - 2003-09-15


For the third time this month, the British embassy compound in Tehran has come under fire from unknown assailants. No one has been injured during the series of shootings.

British officials in Tehran say the latest shooting occurred late Sunday opposite the main gate of the residential compound of the British embassy in Iran. The complex houses a large number of British diplomatic staff members and their families.

Embassy spokesman Andrew Greenstock said no one was injured in what was described by witnesses as a drive-by shooting by two gunmen on a motorcycle.

It was the third such incident this month. On September 3, the main embassy building was hit by gunfire from unknown assailants, also on a motorcycle. Several bullets reportedly pierced windows during the attack, although no one was injured. It prompted the embassy to authorize the voluntary departure of all non-essential staff members and their families.

Six days later, several shots were fired outside the complex. British authorities in Tehran responded with a strong protest, charging that Iranian authorities were failing to provide adequate security. Iran's foreign ministry said the shots were fired during a police pursuit of a civilian vehicle and had nothing to do with the embassy.

Tensions between London and Tehran have increased following last month's arrest in Britain of a former Iranian ambassador to Argentina.

Hadi Soleimanpour is wanted on an international warrant issued by an Argentine judge in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Mr. Soleimanpour was the Iranian ambassador to Argentina at the time of the bombing.

Iranian authorities said the arrest was politically motivated and called for the former diplomat's immediate release.

Friday, Mr. Soleimanpour was released on $1 million bail. He was studying in Britain at the time of his arrest.

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