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Iranian protesters hurl petrol bombs at UK embassy

By Staff
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TEHRAN, Feb 26: More than 1,200 conservative students angered by the destruction of a Shi'ite Muslim shrine in Iraq hurled petrol bombs, stones and eggs at the British embassy in Tehran today.

In a separate demonstration earlier in the day, some 500 protesters had already burned flags and called for the embassy to be shut down.

It was not clear whether the second demonstration was entirely composed of fresh protesters.

Iran has accused Western forces in Iraq of orchestrating Wednesday's bombing of the Golden Mosque of Samarra, one of the most venerated buildings in Shi'ite Islam, in order to spark civil war between Shi'ites and Sunnis.

Western nations condemned the attack, and Washington suggested the al Qaeda network could have been trying to stir up sectarian bloodshed through the bombing.

A Reuters journalist at the second demonstration said the crowd had thrown six petrol bombs, chanting ''Death to the two Satans, Britain and America!'' and ''Shut down the British Embassy!''.

A student leader, shouting through a megaphone, vowed that the students would do everything in their power to harm Western political and economic interests in Iran.

''The agents of global arrogance should know their security and political and economic interests will be in danger,'' he bawled.

''In particular, the ambassador of this corrupt embassy will not be safe in our streets,'' he added.

The United States has no embassy in Iran, so protesters enraged by events in Iraq usually focus their wrath on Britain, a close ally of Washington.

In recent weeks, crowds of hardline students have attacked European embassies in Tehran in response to newspaper cartoons that first appeared in Denmark, depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

Many Muslims believe representation of the Prophet is blasphemous, and many more were offended by the irreverence of the drawings, one of which showed the Prophet wearing a bomb for a turban.

''Publishing cartoons and bombing shrines is all part of a US and Zionist conspiracy to divide Muslims, but the Islamic community is aware of what they are up to,'' said demonstrator Maryam Hajizadeh, 26.

REUTERS

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