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Iran: Twin blasts kill 103 on fourth death anniversary of commander Qasem Soleimani

State TV showed Red Crescent rescuers attending to wounded people at the ceremony, where hundreds of Iranians had gathered to mark the anniversary of Soleimani's death. Some Iranian news agencies said at least 50 people were wounded.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Tehran Updated on: January 03, 2024 20:32 IST
Rally in Baghdad on anniversary of Iranian general’s death
Image Source : AP/FILE Rally in Baghdad on anniversary of Iranian general’s death

Iran blast: In a major development, massive explosions killed at least 103 people and wounded dozens near a cemetery in Iran where a ceremony was being held to mark the 2020 death of the country's top commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone attack, Iranian state media reported on Wednesday.

Iranian state television reported a first and then a second explosion during the ceremony in the southeastern city of Kerman, saying at least 20 people had been killed. Later, the National Medical Services Organization, claimed that more than 103 people were killed in the attack. Anadolu news agency reported.

Gas canisters blast or a terrorist attack? 

The semi-official Nournews said, "Several gas canisters exploded on the road leading to the cemetery". 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".

State TV showed Red Crescent rescuers attending to wounded people at the ceremony, where hundreds of Iranians had gathered to mark the anniversary of Soleimani's death. Some Iranian news agencies said at least 50 people were wounded.

"Our rapid response teams are evacuating the injured... But there are waves of crowds blocking roads," Reza Fallah, head of the Kerman province Red Crescent told state TV.

Who could be responsible?

Iran has multiple foes who could be behind the assault, including exile groups, militant organisations and state actors. Iran has supported Hamas as well as the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Soleimani was the architect of Iran’s regional military activities and is hailed as a national icon among supporters of Iran’s theocracy. He also helped secure Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government after the 2011 Arab Spring protests against him turned into a civil, and later a regional, war that still rages today.

Who was Soleimani

Relatively unknown in Iran until the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Soleimani’s popularity and mystique grew after American officials called for his killing over his help arming militants with penetrating roadside bombs that killed and maimed US troops.

A decade and a half later, Soleimani had become Iran’s most recognizable battlefield commander, ignoring calls to enter politics but growing as powerful, if not more, than its civilian leadership.

Ultimately, a drone strike launched by the Trump administration killed the general, part of escalating incidents that followed America’s 2018 unilateral withdrawal from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Soleimani’s death has drawn large processions in the past. At his funeral in 2020, a stampede broke out and at least 56 people were killed and more than 200 were injured as thousands thronged the procession.

(With inputs from agencies)

Also Read: 'Israel will certainly pay the price': Iranian President as top Revolutionary Guards leader killed in Syria

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