Dozens of people have reportedly been killed as two explosions ripped through a memorial parade to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Iran’s south-central city of Kerman on Wednesday, according to media reports.
Two explosions occurred close to the grave site of the former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander, Iranian media reports said. Mohammad Saberi, who leads Kerman’s emergency rescue services, initially told state media that 20 people had been killed in the explosions and a further 20 had been injured, Al Jazeera reported.
Iranian media has since reported that 103 people have died, while 141 were injured. These figures are likely to rise in the coming hours. The agency also noted that officials at the scene have described the incident as a terrorist attack, and that two bags containing bombs are thought to have exploded in the crowded area after being detonated remotely.
Some details about the event in #Iran: 1. The first explosion occurred 700 meters from Qassem Soleimani's grave. 2. The second explosion happened about a kilometer from the grave, in the midst of a procession. pic.twitter.com/bV7Qr2Fvm5
— Niv Calderon (@nivcalderon) January 3, 2024
Video footage of the aftermath of the incident circulating on social media shows injured people at the scene being attended to by medics and being removed on stretchers.
“Our rapid response teams are evacuating the injured,” Reza Fallah, head of Kerman’s Red Crescent humanitarian group, told Iranian television, according to Al Jazeera. He added that rescue operations are being hampered by “waves of crowds blocking roads.”
Soleimani, a revered figure in Iran, was killed in a US drone strike authorized by former US President Donald Trump in Baghdad, Iraq on January 3, 2020. Trump later said that he had ordered the US military operation in response to intelligence that claimed that Soleimani was planning an “imminent” attack on US forces in the Iraqi capital.
The incident in Kerman comes one day after a senior Hamas figure, Saleh al-Arouri, was killed in a drone strike in Lebanon. Iran condemned the attack, saying that it could potentially “ignite another surge in the veins of resistance and the motivation to fight against the Zionist occupiers.”