Two explosions in quick succession near the grave of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani killed more than 100 people and wounded scores as the country marked the anniversary of his killing in a US drone strike in Iraq.
“Huge explosion heard near Saheb al-Zaman Mosque” where the head of foreign operations of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards is buried in Kerman in southern Iran, AFP reported quoting local media that added shortly afterward, “A second explosion was heard near Saheb al-Zaman Mosque.”
Reza Fallah, head of the Kerman province Red Crescent rescuers said as per Reuters, “Our rapid response teams are evacuating the injured… But there are waves of crowds blocking roads.”
Iranian state TV reported that they were heard near Qasem Soleimani’s burial place but gave no details on what caused the explosion. Several people were injured in a stampede after the explosions, it reported as the live broadcast showed thousands of mourners participating in the death anniversary. Ambulances were also seen on site.
Nournews reported “several gas canisters exploded on the road leading to the cemetery” while a local official was quoted by Iranian state media as saying “it is not yet clear whether the explosions were caused by gas cylinders or a terrorist attack”.
Explosions were heard within 15 minutes in the central province of Kerman, Bloomberg reported. State-run Islamic Republic News Agency quoted the province’s deputy governor as saying that it’s not yet clear whether the blasts were caused by a gas explosion or a “terrorist attack.”
Who is Qasem Soleimani?
Qasem Soleimani remains a revered figure in Iran after he died in a US drone strike just outside Baghdad airport. He headed the Quds Force- the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. His death in 2020 led to fears of a direct military confrontation between Iran and the US.
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