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ISIS Claims Responsibility For Pair Of Terror Attacks In Iran


President Trump released a statement this afternoon saying he prays for the victims of the two terror attacks in Iran today but he also said, quote, "states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote." Iranian state media reports that militants armed with explosives and automatic weapons targeted Iran's Parliament building and a shrine to the founding father of the country's revolution. At least 12 people were killed. ISIS has claimed responsibility.

NPR's Peter Kenyon reports the killings shattered Iran's self-image as a secure country in a dangerous region.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: The sprawling shrine to the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is sometimes a place for contemplation, but today attackers sprayed bullets and set off an explosion which this video posted online purports to capture.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Foreign language spoken).


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Foreign language spoken).

KENYON: At the same time, another armed group converged on Iran's Parliament. A brief video posted on an ISIS-linked website shows what appears to be the dead body of a man with a bloodstained shirt as an alarm sounds, a man shouts and someone fires a weapon.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: (Foreign language spoken).


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: (Foreign language spoken).

KENYON: After a lengthy siege, officials declared both attacks over and said as many as six attackers were dead. The claim by ISIS, if confirmed, would be a first - the Sunni terror group claiming an attack carried out inside Shiite powerhouse Iran. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was flying to Turkey in a prearranged visit as the attack unfolded. At the Ankara airport, he said this will put the fight against terror at the top of Iran's agenda.


MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF: (Through interpreter) These acts will empower our people's will against terrorism. All our people and military organizations will take part against such deeds.

KENYON: Condemnations came in from Russia, Germany and France and later from a U.S. State Department spokeswoman who said the depravity of terrorism has no place in a peaceful, civilized world. Iran analyst Sanam Vakil at Chatham House says the impact on President Hassan Rouhani, who just defeated a hardline cleric to win a second term in office, is likely to be powerful.

SANAM VAKIL: This is going to have massive reverberations for Rouhani because he has very much applauded the security services. So this is going to speak to some weakness, at the same time perhaps inviting criticism from hardliners after this very acrimonious presidential election that just finished.

KENYON: For a state that prides itself on its sprawling intelligence and security apparatus, the fallout is likely to be far-reaching. Vakil says an already security conscious state could become more so.

VAKIL: We're going to see I think an immediate surge in a security presence throughout the country. It's important to see if they're going to try to invoke emergency laws and use this as an opportunity for greater sort of security state reactions, crackdowns and the like.

KENYON: Shiite Iran and Sunni ISIS have been fighting for years in Iraq and Syria, and Iran's Revolutionary Guard is pointing a finger at a country it has called a major supporter of ISIS, Saudi Arabia, a Sunni power that recently hosted President Donald Trump. The Revolutionary Guard's issued a statement saying one of the Arab countries that met with President Trump recently had a hand in the attacks.

Whether today's violence will change Iran's behavior in the region remains to be seen. For some time, Iran has been saying it wants to play a bigger role in the anti-ISIS fight in Syria. Now it would seem to have a powerful reason to do so. Peter Kenyon, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.