Two explosions rocked the city of Kerman in Iran on Wednesday, targeting a commemoration event for the late General Qassem Soleimani. The renowned general was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq in January 2020.
At least 103 people were killed and 141 others wounded in the blasts, which occurred just minutes apart. The attack took place as tensions in the Middle East remained high due to Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Iranian state media referred to the incident as a “terroristic” attack; however, no group has claimed responsibility thus far. It is worth noting that while Israel has previously targeted Iran over its nuclear program, it has typically carried out targeted assassinations rather than mass-casualty bombings.
Although Iran has witnessed mass protests and has been targeted by exile groups in the past, Kerman is known for its relative peace. This makes the attacks even more shocking for the residents of the city.
The explosions struck an event commemorating the fourth anniversary of General Qassem Soleimani’s death. The revered general was the head of the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force. The blasts occurred near his grave site in Kerman.
Footage from the scene indicated that the second blast took place approximately 15 minutes after the first explosion. Such a delayed second explosion is often used by militants to target emergency personnel responding to the initial incident, resulting in additional casualties.
The horrifying scene was captured by state TV cameras, with people screaming in the background.
The identity of those behind the attacks is still unknown, and investigations are ongoing to determine the motive and perpetrators. The people of Iran, already dealing with the aftermath of the U.S. drone strike that killed General Soleimani, are now faced with this devastating act of violence on their soil.
Tragic Terrorist Attack in Kerman, Iran
Deputy Governor of Kerman, Rahman Jalali, has described the recent attack in the region as “terroristic”. Although details surrounding the incident are scarce, it is believed that the assault could have been orchestrated by one of Iran’s numerous adversaries. These include exile groups, militant organizations, and even state actors. Iran has been known to support Hamas, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The loss of Qasem Soleimani, who played a crucial role in Iran’s military endeavors in the region, has deeply impacted his supporters and those who uphold Iran’s theocracy. Soleimani was regarded as a national icon, particularly after he helped stabilize Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government following the Arab Spring protests in 2011. What began as a civil war in Syria has since escalated into a regional conflict that continues to afflict the nation.
Before the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Soleimani was relatively unknown within Iran. However, his reputation significantly grew when American officials targeted him for his involvement in arming militants with deadly roadside bombs that inflicted harm upon U.S. troops. Over time, Soleimani emerged as Iran’s most prominent commander in battle, surpassing even the country’s civilian leadership in terms of power and influence.
Ultimately, it was a drone strike ordered by the Trump administration that led to the untimely demise of General Soleimani. This strike was just one of several incidents that escalated tensions between Iran and the United States subsequent to America’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement in 2018.
The death of Soleimani had previously triggered widespread mourning among his supporters. In 2020, during his funeral procession, a tragic stampede occurred in Kerman, resulting in the deaths of at least 56 people and leaving over 200 injured. However, Kerman itself has largely been unaffected by the recent wave of unrest and attacks sweeping across Iran. Situated in the central desert plateau, the city and province bearing the same name have thus far remained relatively calm.