Two explosions killed more than 100 people and wounded scores at a ceremony in Iran to commemorate top commander Qassem Soleimani who was killed by a US drone in 2020, Iranian officials said on Wednesday.
Hundreds of Iranians had gathered to mark the anniversary of Soleimani’s death. The explosions killed 103 people, while 141 were left wounded.
An unnamed official told the state news agency IRNA that ‘Two explosive devices planted along the road leading to Kerman’s Martyrs’ Cemetery were detonated remotely by terrorists.’
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Videos aired by Iranian media showed dozens of bodies strewn around as people rushed in the chaos, with some bystanders trying to attend to survivors.
The US assassination of Soleimani in a drone attack at Baghdad airport and Tehran’s retaliation by attacking two US-occupied Iraq military bases brought the United States and Iran close to the brink of a full-blown conflict in 2020.
As chief commander of the elite Quds force, the overseas arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Soleimani ran clandestine operations in foreign countries and was a key figure in Iran’s long-standing campaign to drive US forces out of the Middle East.
Tensions between Iran and Israel, along with its ally the United States, have reached a new high with the Israel-Hamas war in the foreground.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia have also attacked ships they say have links to Israel in the entrance to the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
US forces have come under attack by Iran-backed militants in Iraq and Syria over Washington’s backing of Israel. On Monday an Israeli airstrike killed a senior leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Syria.
Iran has in the past blamed Israel for attacks on individual people or places within its borders.
While Israel has neither confirmed nor denied these allegations, there was no current indication of any foreign involvement in the explosions at Wednesday’s ceremony.
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