Saudi embassy in Tehran attacked by protesters

Images shared on social media appeared to show Iranian protesters breaking into the Saudi embassy and starting fires

Published: Updated:

Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad were attacked by Iranian protesters early Sunday following the execution of a Saudi Shiite preacher along with 46 others.

Images shared on social media early on Sunday morning appeared to show Iranian protesters breaking into the Saudi embassy and starting fires.

One photograph, posted on Twitter, showed protesters outside the embassy building with small fires burning inside, while another showed a room with smashed furniture purportedly inside the building.

Iran's Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling on protesters to respect the diplomatic premises after police dispersed angry protesters who had stormed the Saudi embassy.

A few hours before the embassy attack, members of the Basij student militia -- connected to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards -- demonstrating on Saturday in front of the Saudi consulate in the northeast Iranian city of Mashhad.

The militia reportedly attempted to set part of the building ablaze, according to a local Iranian news agency website.

Among the 47 terrorism convicts executed were Fares al-Shuwail, said to be a high ranking member of Al Qaeda, and Shiite preacher Nimr al-Nimr.

The execution of Nimr was criticized by Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, a prominent Iranian cleric and a member of the Assembly of Experts, who predicted repercussions following the preacher's execution.

Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari strongly condemned Riyadh for executing Nimr in statements carried by the official IRNA news agency. Parliament speaker Ali Larijani also condemned Nimr's death.

On Sunday Bahrain's Foreign Ministry condemned the storming of the Saudi embassy, while Jordan described the attack as a "flagrant violation of international law." An Iranian official said 40 people were arrested over the attack.

(with AFP and Reuters)