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  • alm@znet.com
    Presidential Palace in Tehran raided; Khatami s Fate Unknown TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Black-clad masked commandos stormed into the grounds of the Presidential
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2001
      Presidential Palace in Tehran raided; Khatami's Fate Unknown

      TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Black-clad masked commandos stormed into the
      of the Presidential Palace in Tehran early on Sunday morning amid
      in an apparent move to arrest Mohammad Khatami, Iran's reformist
      President, after an earlier attempt went wrong.

      The early morning raid by the commandos wielding submachineguns
      hours of drama and confusion over the fate of Khatami, the popularly
      elected President who had come under increasing pressure by hardline
      conservatives over the past year.

      The standoff began earlier in the night after police rammed the gates
      the presidential palace with a beige van. Carrying military assault
      rifles, police jumped out of the vehicle and shouted at people and
      journalists to get out of the way. Two more vans followed, carrying
      of the hooded police inside.

      Concussion grenade flashes and gunfire enveloped the complex grounds.
      Smoke was seen rising into the air. Some of the special forces smashed
      through windows as riot police held people outside the gates.

      Local media, citing judiciary sources, said police had the task of
      arresting Khatami during the night. Silence from inside the compound
      the early morning storming raised the possibility of a standoff
      the commandos and the presidential security guards.

      A political source told AP Khatami had been presented with an arrest
      warrant on Saturday night but told police he did not recognize it.

      Earlier on Saturday, former culture minister Ataollah Mohajerani, and
      Tehran city council member Saeed Hajjarian had been arrested and taken
      a courthouse to face the presiding hardline judge Saeed Mortazavi.

      Hajjarian had just returned to Tehran from two weeks of medical
      in Austria, for injuries received in a failed assassination attempt

      As police stood guard inside the compound, outside the gates hundreds
      riot police kept watch on about 7,000 bystanders and supporters of the
      embattled president. An armored personnel carrier was parked nearby.

      One senior Iranian political source said problems with the arrest were
      to different stances of the police and the presidential guards, who
      taken from the ranks of the elite revolutionary guards, or the
      ``The Pasdaran has so far prevented legal procedure,'' the source, who
      declined to be named, told AP.

      The United States and other diplomatic powers were left holding their
      breath after Khatami appeared briefly waving to his supporters outside
      compound, and confusion surrounded his fate.

      Apparently talking from the palace after the first arrest attempt, he
      his brother, a parliament deputy, that he was fine.

      ``At the moment I am having a meeting with Abtahi [chief of staff] and
      others here and I am very well,'' he told his brother, Mohammad Reza

      Future Hanging In Balance

      Khatami's future and that of the Iranian reform movement hung in the
      balance after the arrival of the commandos at high speed in a beige
      and several other vehicles. Shots rang out and glass was smashed as
      took up positions inside and outside the palace.

      Calm descended on the area sometime after 3 a.m. after the commando
      operation and reporters had no way of knowing what was going on behind
      high walls.

      In Washington, a U.S. official said: ``We have received communications
      through the Swiss government that Mr. Khatami is under siege in his

      The official said he had no further information on what charges
      had been arrested for, nor if it was just a detention or house arrest,
      not an actual arrest.

      The reported move came shortly after Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati of the
      powerful Guardians Council overseeing Iranian elections, told
      that the council ``would certainly reject Mr. Khatami's credentials as
      candidate for the upcoming June presidential elections, if he were to

      Speculation that the Iranian leader's arrest was imminent soared
      on Saturday after a police van, an ambulance and several unmarked cars
      showed up near the presidential compound.

      Citing a police source, a reporter of the reformist paper
      told AP that police had tried to replace some of Khatami's bodyguards,
      move that had been resisted by both the guards and the Iranian

      AP's correspondent in Tehran, April Fools, reports that the city is
      now, with most of the population laughing their heads off at the big
      of joke that this so called news story has been. Happy Sizdah Bedar!
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