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At least 103 people were killed and more than 188 injured in central Iran after two explosions detonated near the burial site of slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, in what authorities have described as a terror attack, CNN reported.
Iranian state media said the twin blasts occurred in the city of Kerman, both taking place less than a mile from Soleimani’s grave. Officials said the first blast originated from a suitcase bomb inside a car that was detonated remotely.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, but the Iranian government has condemned the explosions and declared Thursday a national day of mourning.
The blasts came during the fourth anniversary of Soleimani’s death – he was killed on Jan. 3, 2020, in a US airstrike at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq.
The military leader was the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, an elite unit that handles Tehran’s overseas operations and has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.
According to the Pentagon, Soleimani and his unit were “responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more.”
Observers noted that the explosion came during a time of heightened tensions across the Middle East following the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The conflict has led to fighting beyond Israel, often involving Iran-backed militias.
On Tuesday, a senior Hamas leader was killed in the Lebanese capital Beirut in a blast that one US official said was carried out by Israel. Israeli officials have neither confirmed nor denied their involvement.
Last week, Iran and its proxies accused Israel of assassinating a senior Iranian commander in Syria, leading to vows of retaliation.
Israel did not comment on the matter but has previously accused Iran of funding and arming Hamas.