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Italian embassy in Iran attacked

Pro-government protestors held back by police

09 February, 16:00
Italian embassy in Iran attacked (ANSA) - Rome, February 9 - Around a hundred members of an Iranian pro-government volunteer militia attempted to attack the Italian embassy in Tehran on Tuesday but ere held back by police, according to Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

Frattini said in the Senate that activists of the Basiji had organised a "hostile" demonstration outside the diplomatic mission and then tried to force their way inside, shouting "death to Italy, death to Berlusconi," the Italian premier.

Iranian police intervened and stopped the action, which Frattini said had avoided any serious damage to the embassy which remained open.

Similar demonstrations were organised outside the French, German and Dutch embassies, ANSA's correspondent from Tehran reported.

Frattini made his remarks while addressing a joint session of the Senate and House foreign affairs committee on the situation in Iran.

The Basiji are a paramilitary volunteer militia made up mostly of young people and while subordinate to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are totally loyal to Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khameni.

Observers believe Tuesday's demonstration may have been in response to Berlusconi's statements in Israel last week that Iran "is a state which is led by someone (President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) who recalls evil figures from the past".

The Italian premier also voiced the hope that the international community would approve ''strong sanctions'' capable of dissuading the Iranian leadership from developing nuclear weapons.

Tehran replied by accusing Berlusconi of interfering in Iran's domestic affairs and pandering to Israel.

photo: the entrance to the Italian embassy

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