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1979: Victory for Khomeini as army steps aside
Supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini appear to be in control of the Iranian capital, Tehran, tonight.

Only 10 days since Khomeini's triumphant return to Iran from exile in Paris, the army has returned to barracks and given up the fight to defend the old regime.

Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar, brought in by the Shah only last month in an effort to win back popular support, has resigned and disappeared.

Iran radio is reporting rumours he has committed suicide after his home in North Tehran was attacked and burned down.

Abandoned tanks

Civilian demonstators have again been on the streets today, seizing control of police and fire stations, forcing the officers to flee and arming themselves with the weapons they found inside.

Khomeini set the country on a collision course five days ago when he established a provisional government under Mehdi Bazargan and called on people to demonstrate their support for an Islamic regime.

Ten people died in a battle for one police station today. In total the death toll is now put at 200 with 700 injured.

Demonstrators have taken control of the airport and radio and television station, where staff who had been on strike in support of the Ayatollah returned immediately and began broadcasting news about the takeover of the country.

Elsewhere protesters have set fire to barricades across the streets, even in the heart of the main shopping and business districts of the city.

Abandoned tanks have been left behind after soldiers previously loyal to the Shah have switched allegiances.

Foreign embassies have been raided for their weapons.

The only remaining resistance came from soldiers of the elite Imperial Guard, who were defending their headquarters in the north of the city at Lavizan and at two royal palaces.

An announcement on television said the three bases had been surrounded by revolutionary forces and negotiations were under way for their surrender.

Although there was no official announcement from Dr Bakhtiar of his resignation, the news has been repeatedly broadcast by the media.

There had been rumours of a possible military coup. But a meeting of senior generals this afternoon acknowledged this would split the army and cause serious bloodshed.

They put out a statement at 1400 local time ordering troops to return to their garrisons in order to prevent further bloodshed and anarchy.

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Civilians brandishing guns on an armoured car
Supporters of the Ayatollah have armed themselves and seized control of the city



In Context
Ayatollah Khomeini declared an Islamic republic on 1 April 1979.

Mr Bakhtiar fled to Paris where he founded the National Resistance Front. He was assassinated in 1991.

Khomeini presided over a brutal and repressive regime. He pursued the war with Iraq from 1980-88 with religious fervour, regarding Saddam Hussein as the infidel leader of the country which had expelled him in 1978.

Diplomatic relations with the United States were broken off over the Tehran embassy hostage crisis. Fanatical supporters of the Ayatollah stormed the US embassy in November 1979 and took 53 hostages, demanding the return of the Shah to stand trial in Iran.

Relations between Britain and Iran plummeted over the death sentence or fatwa imposed by the Ayatollah on author Salman Rushdie in 1989.

Khomeini died in 1989.

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