State media: 73 dead in explosions near grave of slain general in Iran

At least 73 people were killed in two explosions in Iran near the grave of General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in 2020, on Wednesday, according to reports from Iranian state media. In addition, 170 people were injured in the detonations in the southern city of Kerman, where the grave is in a mosque. The deputy governor of Kerman spoke of a “terrorist attack”.

On Wednesday, Iran commemorated the fourth anniversary of the death of Soleimani, who was killed by the US military in Iraq on January 3, 2020. The bombs exploded ten minutes apart, the Iranian news agency Isna quoted the mayor of Kerman as saying.

The Iranian news agency Tasnim reported that two bags of explosives exploded on site. The perpetrators “apparently detonated the bombs using remote control,” Tasnim said.

Footage online shows a crowd trying to escape as security forces cordon off the area. State television showed images of several ambulances and rescue personnel on site.

Soleimani was killed in a drone strike near Baghdad ordered by then US President Donald Trump. The general commanded the Quds Brigades, the branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard responsible for foreign operations, and was considered a hero of the Iran-Iraq War in his homeland. Trump said at the time that he had ordered the drone strike in response to a series of attacks on US bases in Iraq.

In the days following his death, millions gathered in Iran and mourned the general. A poll published in 2018 showed Soleimani’s popularity rating in Iran was 83 percent – more than the then-president and then-foreign minister.

The situation in the Middle East is currently extremely tense. The explosions came a day after Saleh al-Aruri, the deputy head of the political bureau of the radical Islamic group Hamas, was killed in a drone strike in Beirut. Security sources in Lebanon said Israel carried out the drone attack on the office in a southern suburb of Beirut.