Iran vows harsh response after 95 killed near general's tomb

Iran vows harsh response after 95 killed near general
# 04 January 2024 13:58 (UTC +04:00)

At least 84 people have been killed by two bomb explosions near the tomb of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani on the fourth anniversary of his assassination by the US, Iran's state media report, APA reports citing BBC.

Scores of others were wounded when the blasts hit a procession near the Saheb al-Zaman mosque in the city of Kerman.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed the "terrorist attack" would be met with a "harsh response".

On Wednesday evening, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a statement expressing his condolences to the families of those killed.

"The evil and criminal enemies of the Iranian nation once again created a disaster and martyred a large number of dear people in Kerman," he said.

"Be it those with innocents' blood on their hands or those corrupt minds that led to this atrocity, they will be met with firm crackdown and fair punishment, commencing immediately," he added. "They should know that this disaster will have a harsh response, God willing."

UN Secretary General António Guterres strongly condemned the attack and expressed his "deep condolences to the bereaved families and the people and the government" of Iran, his spokesman said.

The EU said it condemned the bombing "in the strongest terms" and expressed its "solidarity with the Iranian people", while Russian President Vladimir Putin called the attack "shocking in its cruelty and cynicism".

The death toll was revised down on Thursday morning by the head of Iran's emergency services from an earlier figure of 95.

The number of dead had initially been reported as 103, but Iran's health minister said some names were accidentally registered twice.

Suspicion may fall on Arab separatists and Sunni jihadist groups like Islamic State (IS), who have carried out attacks on civilians and security forces in the country in recent years.

Iranian media reported the first bomb was detonated around 15:00 local time (11:30 GMT), about 700m (2,300ft) from the Garden of Martyrs cemetery around the Saheb al-Zaman mosque, in the eastern outskirts of Kerman.

The second bombing took place about 15 minutes later, around 1km away from the cemetery, targeting people who had fled the first, they said.

Kerman province's governor told state news agency Irna that both blasts happened outside security checkpoints and that authorities were sure they were caused by bombs. But he said it was not yet clear whether they were detonated remotely or by suicide attackers.

Iran's health minister, Bahram Eynollahi, said as well as the 95 killed, 211 people were wounded by the blasts, with 27 in a critical condition.

The Iranian Red Crescent said the dead included at least one paramedic who was sent to the scene of the first explosion and was hit by the second.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahid said the second blast killed and wounded the most people, and that an investigation had been launched to determine who was behind the attack.

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