Iran | 95 dead in an attack during a ceremony in memory of General Soleimani

(Tehran) Iran accused Israel and the United States of being behind the attack which left at least 95 dead on Wednesday near the tomb of Qassem Soleimani, architect of Iranian military operations in the Middle East including Iran commemorated the death four years ago, state media reported.




The official Irna news agency initially reported a death toll of 103, with state television reporting 211 injured, some in critical condition.

Health Minister Bahram Eynollahi later revised “the exact number of people killed in the terrorist incident” to 95, explaining that some names “were recorded twice by mistake.”

A double explosion took place near the Saheb al-Zaman mosque, where the tomb of General Soleimani is located, in Kerman, southern Iran. A compact crowd made up of representatives of the regime and anonymous people was gathered there for a ceremony.

A political adviser to the Iranian president accused Israel and the United States of being behind the attack.

PHOTO MAHDI KARBAKHSH RAVARI, ASSOCIATED PRESS

“Washington says the United States and Israel played no role in the terrorist attack in Kerman, Iran. Really ? A fox does not smell its own scent,” Mohammad Jamshidi wrote on X on Wednesday.

“The responsibility for this crime lies with the American and Zionist regimes, and terrorism is only a tool,” he said.

The State Department in Washington, for its part, deemed any suggestion that the United States or Israel were involved in the attack “absurd”.

“The United States was not involved in any way. Any claim to the contrary is absurd,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, adding: “We have no reason to believe Israel is involved.”

The attack “looks like a terrorist attack, the kind of thing ISIS has done in the past,” said a senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Iran’s sworn enemy, Israel, has not commented on the attack. “We are focused on fighting with Hamas,” army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in response to a question.

The attack, which was not immediately claimed, comes in a very tense regional context since the start of the conflict almost three months ago between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and the day after the elimination of a senior member of the Palestinian Islamist movement in an airstrike near Beirut.

According to IRNA, a first explosion occurred 700 meters from Soleimani’s tomb and the second one kilometer further.

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

The Iranian government declared Thursday a “national day of mourning throughout the country” after the attack, the deadliest in Iran since 1978, when an arson attack left at least 377 dead in a cinema in Abadan, according to Iranian archives. ‘AFP.

As night fell, many people returned to the Kerman cemetery chanting “Death to Israel!” and “Death to America!” “. In Tehran, thousands of people gathered to pay tribute to Soleimani.

“We condemn today’s terrible terrorist attack (…) I hope that the perpetrators of this crime will be identified and punished for their actions,” said Zeinab, General Soleimani’s daughter.

“Severe response”

PHOTO MEHDI GHASEMI, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Qassem Soleimani

The Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for his part promised a “severe response” to the attack, condemned as an “odious and cowardly” act by President Ebrahim Raïssi who canceled a trip planned for Thursday to Turkey after the attack, according to state media.

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, supported by Iran, for its part denounced a “terrorist act (…) which seeks to destabilize the security of the Islamic Republic in the service of the agenda of the Zionist entity (Israel)”.

For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced an attack “shocking in its cruelty and cynicism”, and the Secretary General of the UN, the European Union, France, Germany, Jordan and Saudi Saudi Arabia also condemned the attack.

“Living Martyr”

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

According to the Iranian Tasnim agency, which cites well-informed sources, the explosions were caused by “bombs hidden in two bags”. “The perpetrators apparently activated the bombs via a remote control,” according to the same source.

“We were walking towards the cemetery when a car suddenly stopped behind us and a trash can containing a bomb exploded,” said a witness cited by the Isna news agency.

According to the same agency, which quotes the mayor of Kerman Said Tabrizi, the explosions occurred ten minutes apart.

Long considered a sworn enemy of the United States and its allies, Qassem Soleimani led the Quds Force, the external operations arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, overseeing military operations throughout the Middle East. East.

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

Iran has already been the scene of attacks and bombings that have left dozens dead, several of which have been claimed by groups described as “terrorists” by Tehran.

In 2019, a suicide car bomb attack against a Revolutionary Guards bus, then claimed by Jaish al-Adl, a jihadist group formed in 2012, killed 27 soldiers in the southeast of the country.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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