At least 103 Iranians have been killed and many more wounded in two explosions at a commemoration ceremony for Qassem Soleimani in Iran.
The ceremony in the city of Kerman was marking the anniversary of the assassination of the Quds Force commander in January 2020. The Quds Force is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s (IRGC) overseas arm.
Local media cited officials as claiming the blasts were the result of “terrorist attacks.”
Several gas canisters exploded at the entrance to the Garden of Martyrs cemetery where people had gathered, according to Nournews, a news outlet with close ties to the regime.
The first bomb exploded at 14:50 local time and the second took place about 15 minutes later. The first explosion hit the cemetery around the Saheb al-Zaman mosque and the second blast was 1km away from the cemetery.
Iran's Tasnim news agency reported that "two bags carrying bombs went off" at the site and that the "perpetrators... of this incident apparently detonated the bombs by remote control".
Videos shared on social media show bloodied bodies scattered on a road and emergency services rushing to the scene.
Iran International said it remained unclear whether all the casualties were due to the explosions or also to a stampede that followed the incident.
Reza Fallah, head of the Kerman Province Red Crescent emergency service, told Iranian state television: “Our rapid response teams are evacuating the injured. But there are waves of crowds blocking roads.”
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Initial reports suggest that Soleimani’s tomb was not damaged.
Soleimani was the second most powerful figure in Iran after the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and played a strategic role in Iran’s entrenchment efforts throughout the Middle East.
He was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq. Former US President Donald Trump described Soleimani as “the number-one terrorist anywhere in the world” and ordered the 2020 assassination.
It comes a day after Hamas’s deputy leader, Saleh al-Arouri, was killed in an apparent Israeli drone strike in Beirut, along with at least two other Hamas military commanders and four other members of the terror group.