General Soleimani’s death anniversary: ​​95 dead in explosions in Iran – Tehran wants "emphatically" react

Crowds flock to Iranian General Soleimani’s grave on the anniversary of his death when two devastating explosions suddenly occur. The result is dozens of deaths and injuries. Iran wants to respond “vigorously”.

It is the deadliest attack in the 45-year history of the Islamic Republic. On the anniversary of the death of the powerful Iranian general Ghassem Soleimani, at least 95 people were killed in two explosions in his hometown of Kerman. Iran’s government spoke of a terrorist attack.

Iran’s health minister revised the death toll downwards on Wednesday evening. 95 people were killed, Bahram Eynollahi said in an interview. He justified the correction by saying that some of the victims’ names had previously been counted twice. State media had previously put the death toll at 103. The minister said that around 30 patients were still in critical condition. According to Eynollahi, a total of 211 people were injured.

The background to the explosions is still unclear. Initially, no group claimed responsibility for the alleged attack. Terror attacks of this magnitude are extremely rare in Iran. According to media reports, the condition of many of the injured is critical. There is great concern that the number of victims could continue to rise. Iran’s Health Minister Bahram Eynollahi set out to personally oversee the care of the injured.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi canceled his first state visit to Turkey. The trip to Ankara, which was actually planned for Thursday, will be postponed, the Iranian state news agency Irna reported on Telegram on Wednesday.

Iran wants to “bring criminals to justice”

Iran’s Interior Minister Ahmad Wahidi announced a decisive reaction. “Our police forces are vigilant and will bring to book those who committed this crime,” the minister said. Wahidi said most people died in the second explosion. The exact background would be investigated.

Kerman is located in the Iranian province of the same name, surrounded by vast desert areas. On Wednesday, crowds of people made a pilgrimage through the streets of the provincial capital to Soleimani’s grave site. The detonations are said to have occurred just a few hundred meters away. Reporters from the state agency Irna spoke of a “horrifying sound of an explosion.” During a live broadcast by a state television reporter, rescuers could be seen rushing to a hospital with the injured in the background. Images from the attack sites showed blood-soaked sidewalks, damaged vehicles and torn clothing. Security forces cordoned off the pilgrimage site. Hospitals were put on alert.

In an excerpt broadcast live on state television, bangs and screams can be heard. A video published on X by the Iranian news agency SNN shows people apparently fleeing the suspected explosion site in panic, with smoke rising in the background. Injured people can be seen in other eyewitness videos.

Foreign Office condemns terrorist act in Iran

The Foreign Office condemned the attack as an act of terrorism. “We are deeply saddened by the many deaths in today’s explosions in #Kerman, including many children,” wrote the Foreign Office on X. “We condemn this act of terrorism.” The people of Iran deserve a future of peace and security, it said.

The European Union (EU) also condemned the bombing as an “act of terrorism”. “The EU strongly condemns today’s bomb attack in the Iranian city of Kerman,” the European External Action Service said in a statement. The EU expresses its solidarity “with the Iranian people.”

“This act of terrorism has resulted in a shocking number of civilian deaths and injuries,” it said. The perpetrators must be held accountable.

Trump ordered Soleimani’s killing

Soleimani was killed on January 3, 2020 in a drone strike near the Iraqi capital Baghdad ordered by then US President Donald Trump. Trump said at the time that he had ordered the drone strike on the former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s foreign units in response to a series of attacks on US bases in Iraq. Soleimani is revered as a martyr by government supporters. Propaganda images of the general are also emblazoned on the walls of houses in the capital Tehran.

More than a year ago, the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for an attack on a Shiite shrine in the cultural metropolis of Shiraz. The attack in October 2022 killed more than a dozen people.

On the occasion of the anniversary of Soleimani’s death, the Secretary General of the Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, wanted to give a speech on Wednesday evening. The speech was eagerly awaited against the backdrop of the killing of a leader of the Islamist Hamas in Lebanon. There are concerns that the violent death of Saleh al-Aruri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, could lead to a further escalation of the conflict with Israel.

Hamas-allied Hezbollah, considered the Islamic Republic’s most important non-state ally, had vowed to retaliate.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated several times.