Everything you must know about Qassem Suleimani and deadly Iran explosions
Two major explosions at a memorial ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of the US killing of Qassem Suleimani have claimed at least 103 lives in Iran and injured scores more. The blasts have been called a “terrorist” attack by a senior official.
Suleimani remains a prominent figure in the country following his death in a US drone strike in Baghdad. He headed the Quds Force – foreign operation arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and used to be considered one of the most powerful men in the region.
Blasts near Qassem Suleimani’s burial place an act of terrorism?
Suleimani’s 2020 demise triggered concerns over the possibility of a direct military confrontation between Iran and the US. Irna news reported that the first explosion occurred 700 m from Suleimani’s burial place in the south-central city of Kerman, and the second 1 km away.
Eyewitness reports raised alarm over a couple of explosions 10 minutes apart. On the other hand, some separate reports spoke of four different blasts, suggesting the incident can be considered as a highly sophisticated attack.
Babak Yektaparast, a spokesperson for Iran’s emergency service, initially noted that 73 people had been killed in the explosions and 170 others sustained injuries, according to state-run media in Iran. State television later reported the death toll had reached a staggering 103.
In the initial reports, local officials said it was not clear if the incident had anything to do with gas canisters or suicide bombers. Later on, officials highlighted the blasts occurred in two bombs that were detonated remotely, classifying the development as terrorism.
Iran explosions: Israel in the limelight
Suleimani’s body is buried in Golzar Shohada cemetery in Kerman, along with 1,024 other people regarded as martyrs. The site has become a place of pilgrimage for supporters of the ‘axis of resistance‘ against the US and the west.
Hospitals in the south-central city and surrounding areas have been put on alert to treat the injured. Meanwhile, it wasn’t immediately clear if the apparent attack was a result of a domestic group or a group directed by Israel.