84 Killed In Explosions During Slain Iranian General’s Commemoration

About 84 people were reportedly killed after two bombs exploded during a commemoration for an Iranian general killed by the U.S. military in a 2020 drone strike.

According to Iranian officials, the explosions happened on Wednesday in the city of Kerman. The explosions had reportedly struck about 20 minutes apart from each other, with the second one spraying shrapnel on the crowd as they tried to flee the first blast. It was this second blast that led to the death and injury of most people, according to the Iranian interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi.

Per AP News, the initial death toll reported was 103. However, officials found that some names had been repeated. There could still be an increase in the death toll as many of the wounded victims are in critical condition.

While authorities said that the attacks were bombings, what exactly happened is unclear.

The people at the event were gathered to mark the fourth anniversary of Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s death. Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, had been killed in Iraq by a U.S. drone strike. Wednesday’s explosions occurred close to his grave site, with some accounts claiming the first explosion was about 765 yards from the grave while the second was about 0.62 miles from the grave.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has promised action and said that the parties responsible will suffer “a harsh response.” “Undoubtedly, the perpetrators and leaders of this cowardly act will soon be identified and punished,” he said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the bombings, both of which form the deadliest attack on Iran since the 1979 revolution. Given that the incident happens amid tensions in the Middle East over Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza, some fingers point to Israel, including Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi who said the nation will pay a “heavy price” in retaliation.

However, Israel is unlikely to have been behind the attack as mass casualty bombings like that is not their M.O. Spokespersons for the U.S. State Department and the National Security Council also said there was no valid basis to believe Israel was involved in the attack.