DE Online Desk
At least 103 people have died after explosions were heard near the grave of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani on Wednesday, the anniversary of his killing, Iran’s state television has reported.
The official death toll has constantly risen in the hours since the incident. More than 150 were also reportedly injured.
The explosions, which took place in quick succession, reportedly detonated near the Saheb al-Zaman Mosque in Kerman in southern Iran, where Soleimani is buried.
The SNN news agency reported that ambulances headed toward the cemetery, where hundreds had gathered to mark the anniversary of Soleimani’s death in a US drone strike at Baghdad Airport in 2020.
Iran’s Tasnim news agency cited informed sources as saying there were two bags carrying bombs that seemed to have been set off by remote control.
Rahman Jalali, the deputy governor of Kerman province, told state TV that the blasts were “a terrorist attack,” though he did not elaborate on possible perpetrators.
As commander of the Quds Force, Soleimani was the head of foreign operations of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and seen as an icon by supporters of Iran’s theocracy. At his funeral in 2020, at least 56 people died in a stampede that also injured hundreds.
Soleimani became a target for the US in the early 2000s after he was found to be helping to arm militants in Iraq with penetrating roadside bombs that killed and maimed US troops — assistance that raised his popularity and profile in Iran.
He later became a renowned battlefield commander who also wielded considerable political power.
His death in a drone attack launched by the Trump administration came amid escalating incidents in the wake of Washington’s 2018 withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
DE Online Desk