Iran reported at least 103 casualties in two bomb explosions near the tomb of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, marking the fourth anniversary of his assassination by the US. The blasts occurred during a procession near the Saheb al-Zaman Mosque in Kerman, with dozens more wounded. Iran’s state media referred to it as a “terrorist attack.” While no group claimed responsibility, Arab separatists, Islamic State (IS), and other Sunni jihadist groups have targeted security forces and Shia shrines in the past.
Soleimani, considered a powerful figure in Iran, was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in 2020. The incident adds to regional tensions after the deputy leader of Iran-backed Palestinian group Hamas was killed in a suspected Israeli drone strike in Lebanon. Footage displayed a large gathering in Kerman when the explosions occurred. The first blast took place near the Saheb al-Zaman Mosque, followed by another approximately 1km away. Tasnim news agency suggested “two bags carrying bombs” were detonated remotely.
Witnesses described a car stopping behind them, and a bomb in a waste bin exploded. State media reported 103 dead, including a paramedic, with 141 wounded. Soleimani, as the head of the Quds Force, played a crucial role in Iranian policies across the region, overseeing clandestine missions and support to allied groups. The 2020 US-ordered assassination was met with controversy and escalated tensions between the two nations.