Over 100 people were killed, and numerous others sustained injuries in what Iranian officials describe as ‘terrorist attacks’ involving two explosions during a ceremony in Iran commemorating the slain commander Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2020. The incidents occurred at the cemetery in the southeastern city of Kerman, where Soleimani is interred, during the anniversary event.

Iranian state television reported the initial explosion, followed by a second blast, with an unnamed official stating that “Two explosive devices planted along the road leading to Kerman’s Martyrs’ Cemetery were detonated remotely by terrorists.” Babak Yektaparast, a spokesperson for Iran’s emergency services, reported 73 fatalities and 170 injuries, though state television later indicated that at least 100 people had lost their lives.

People gather at the scene of explosions during a ceremony held to mark the death of late Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, in Kerman, Iran, January 3, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Disturbing videos broadcasted by Iranian media depicted numerous casualties, with some individuals attending to survivors while others hurriedly vacated the blast site.

Reza Fallah, the head of the Kerman Red Crescent Society, stated, “A terrible sound was heard there, despite all the security and safety measures. We are still investigating.” Red Crescent rescuers worked to assist the wounded at the ceremony, where a large crowd had gathered to observe the anniversary of Soleimani’s death. Some Iranian news agencies suggested that the number of injured individuals could be higher.

Fallah added, “We are now evacuating the wounded and injured in the area. The crowd is huge, and the job is quite hard; all the paths to there are blocked.”