21st May 2020

In_pictures In pictures: Iranian embassy siege in London

In_pictures In pictures: Iranian embassy siege in London

In_pictures

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Getty Images

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On 30 April 1980 six gunmen took over the Iranian embassy in Kensington. The siege ended when the SAS stormed the building.

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Brendan Monks/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

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One of the 26 hostages was PC Trevor Lock, of the diplomatic protection squad, who was standing guard outside the embassy. He can be seen here talking with police negotiators from an upstairs window.

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PA Media

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Negotiations continued as the gunmen demanded the release of 91 political prisoners who were jailed in Iran and a plane to fly themselves and the hostages out of the UK. Here, a negotiator can be seen walking away from the embassy.

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N. Beattie/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty I

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The gunmen did release a number of hostages in the first few days of the siege. Here, police can be seen stationed outside the embassy.

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Kent Gavin/Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

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The gunmen belonged to a dissident Iranian group opposed to Ayatollah Khomeini, the religious leader who came to power in 1979. Near to the scene of the siege, supporters of Khomeini made their views known with a protest.

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F Zabci/Shutterstock

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On the sixth day of the siege, after the gunmen shot dead Iranian press attache Abbas Lavasani and dumped his body outside the building, Home Secretary William Whitelaw ordered the SAS to attack.

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PA Media

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The SAS went in barely 20 minutes after the command was issued – their assault relayed by TV cameras trained on the embassy. In 15 minutes it was all over.

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F Zabci/Shutterstock

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The siege ended with two hostages dead and one of the gunmen left alive. Here, one of the hostages manages to climb out of the embassy.

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PA Media

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Many reporters and photographers were on hand and millions of people watched on television as bank holiday entertainment on all three channels was interrupted to show the real-life drama unfold.

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PA

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Mr Whitelaw said he regretted force had to be used – but that there was “no alternative”.

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Ray Moreton/David Levenson/Keystone/Getty Images

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Although Iran had supported the SAS raid, it took about 13 years for a mutual compensation package to be agreed whereby the British government paid for the damage done to the Iranian embassy and Iran repaired the British embassy in Tehran.

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