A double explosion kills 103 people and injures 170 in

A double explosion kills 103 people and injures 170 in Iran

At least 103 people were killed and 141 injured in an attack on Wednesday near the grave of Qassem Soleimani, the architect of Iran's military operations in the Middle East, the fourth anniversary of whose death Iran is celebrating, state media said.

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The double explosion occurred near the Saheb al-Zaman mosque in Kerman, southern Iran, where General Soleimani's grave is located. There, a compact crowd of regime officials and anonymous individuals gathered for a memorial ceremony.

“The number of people killed rose to 103 after people succumbed to their injuries,” Iran's official IRNA news agency said, adding that some of the injured were “in critical condition.”

The attack was quickly described as a “terrorist” act by Rahman Jalali, deputy governor of Kerman province in southern Iran. It was not immediately claimed.

Qassem Soleimani was killed in an American drone strike in Iraq in January 2020 at the age of 62. A key figure in the Iranian regime, he was also one of the country's most popular figures.

Remote controlled bombs

According to the Iranian agency Tasnim, which cites well-informed sources, the explosions were caused by “bombs hidden in two bags.”

“The perpetrators apparently activated the bombs using a remote control,” the same source said.

The Isna agency, citing Kerman Mayor Said Tabrizi, explains that the explosions occurred ten minutes apart.

Videos posted on social media showed participants desperately trying to leave the site as security personnel cordoned off the area. In other videos you can see people running, panicking and being disoriented.

Rescuers were on site shortly after the explosions. Numerous ambulances were also on site.

Qassem Soleimani led the Quds Force, the external operations arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and oversaw military operations across the Middle East.

Declared a “living martyr” by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei while he was still alive, Soleimani was considered a hero for his role in defeating the Islamic State jihadist group in Iraq and Syria.

In the eyes of many Iranians, his military and strategic prowess has helped avert the multi-ethnic collapse of neighboring countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.

Long considered a sworn enemy of the United States and its allies, observers say Soleimani was one of the region's key power brokers, setting Iran's political and military agenda in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.