By Parisa Hafezi
DUBAI (Reuters) -Two explosions killed greater than 100 folks and wounded scores at a ceremony in Iran on Wednesday to commemorate prime commander Qassem Soleimani who was killed by a U.S. drone in 2020, Iranian officers stated, blaming unspecified “terrorists”.
Iranian state tv reported a primary after which a second blast throughout a crowded anniversary occasion on the cemetery the place Soleimani is buried within the southeastern metropolis of Kerman.
An unnamed official advised state information company IRNA that “two explosive units planted alongside the street resulting in Kerman’s Martyrs’ Cemetery had been detonated remotely by terrorists”.
State tv stated that at the least 103 folks had been killed and 211 others injured, making it one of many worst such assaults in Iran, which has confronted comparable incidents previously from numerous teams, together with Islamic State.
Nobody claimed accountability for Wednesday’s blasts.
Pink Crescent rescuers tended to wounded folks on the ceremony, the place tons of of Iranians had gathered to mark the anniversary of Soleimani’s dying. Some Iranian information companies stated the variety of wounded was a lot greater.
“I heard a really loud sound after which felt ache in my again … then I couldn’t really feel my legs,” a wounded lady at a Kerman hospital advised state tv.
Reza Fallah, head of the Kerman Pink Crescent Society, advised state tv the massive crowd was making it exhausting to get the wounded out.
Different movies aired by Iranian media confirmed dozens of our bodies strewn round with some bystanders making an attempt to assist survivors and others hurrying to depart the blast space.
“A horrible sound was heard there, regardless of all the safety and security measures. We’re nonetheless investigating,” Fallah stated.
Later, the state information company stated the cemetery had been evacuated and closed till additional discover. The federal government introduced that Thursday could be a day of mourning.
Whereas the authorities haven’t publicly assigned blame, Iran’s Inside Minister Ahmad Vahidi vowed a robust response.
“Those that dedicated these crimes ought to anticipate a robust and decisive response by Iran’s safety forces,” Vahidi advised state TV, including that “all the pieces is beneath management now and calm has been restored”.
In 2022, the Sunni Muslim militant group Islamic State claimed accountability for a lethal assault on a Shi’ite shrine in Iran which killed 15 folks.
Earlier assaults claimed by the group embody lethal twin bombings in 2017 which focused Iran’s parliament and the tomb of the Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Baluchi militants and ethnic Arab separatists have additionally staged assaults in Iran.
The U.S. assassination of Soleimani in a drone assault at Baghdad airport and Tehran’s retaliation by attacking two Iraq navy bases that home U.S. troops introduced the USA and Iran near full-blown battle in 2020.
As chief commander of the elite Quds drive, the abroad arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Soleimani ran clandestine operations in international nations and was a key determine in Iran’s long-standing marketing campaign to drive U.S. forces out of the Center East.
Tensions between Iran and Israel, together with its ally the USA, have reached a brand new excessive over Israel’s conflict on Iranian-backed Hamas militants in Gaza in retaliation for his or her Oct. 7 rampage by means of southern Israel.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia have attacked ships they are saying have hyperlinks to Israel within the entrance to the Pink Sea, one of many world’s busiest delivery lanes.
U.S. forces have come beneath assault by Iran-backed militants in Iraq and Syria over Washington’s backing of Israel and have carried out their very own retaliatory air strikes.
On Monday an Israeli air strike killed a senior commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Syria.
Iran has previously blamed Israel for assaults on particular person folks or locations inside its borders – claims which Israel has neither confirmed nor denied – however there was no indication of any involvement of a international state within the explosions at Wednesday’s ceremony.