Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for two explosions that rocked a memorial gathering in Iran. It leave nearly 100 people dead and scores wounded. The memorial was held in honor of top Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in Iraq in 2020 by a U.S. drone strike.
The militant Sunni Muslim group asserted that two of its members carried out the attack using explosive belts amidst the crowd gathered at the cemetery in Kerman, Soleimani’s hometown. The twin blasts, the bloodiest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, have prompted Tehran to vow revenge against the perpetrators.
Iran initially blamed the explosions on “terrorists,” and the United Nations Security Council condemned the “cowardly terrorist attack.” The international community expressed condolences to the victims’ families and the Iranian government.
Iranian authorities called for mass protests, scheduled for Friday during the funerals of the victims. State TV aired footage of crowds in various cities chanting anti-Israel and anti-America slogans.
The Revolutionary Guards Corps, a powerful Iranian military force, condemned the attacks as a cowardly act aimed at destabilizing the nation. Despite state media reports suggesting a shooting incident, the Guards commander in Kerman denied such claims.
Terrorist Attacks Rock Iranian Memorial for Soleimani, ISIS Claims Responsibility
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi labeled the attacks a “heinous and inhumane crime,” with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei vowing retaliation.
This is not the first time the Islamic State has targeted Iran. In 2022, the group claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a Shi’ite shrine that claimed 15 lives. Previous attacks include twin bombings in 2017 targeting Iran’s parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The United States and Israel denied involvement in the recent explosions, with Washington categorizing them as a terrorist attack consistent with past actions by the Islamic State. Tensions between Iran, Israel, and the United States have escalated, particularly due to Israel’s military actions against Iran-backed Hamas militants in Gaza.
Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen have also attacked ships in the Red Sea, claiming ties to Israel. U.S. forces, supporting Israel, have faced retaliation from Iran-backed militants in Iraq and Syria.
The assassination of Soleimani in 2020 and subsequent events have heightened tensions in the region, bringing the United States and Iran close to full-blown conflict. The aftermath of the recent attacks leaves a nation mourning its losses and seeking justice for the victims.