Hours after Iranian military commander General Qasem Soleimani was killed by the US, India called for “peace, stability and security” as tensions escalated in the region.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement on Friday said, “the increase in tension has alarmed the world adding that peace, stability and security in this region are of utmost importance to India.”

The MEA urged the countries to ensure the situation does not further escalate.

“It is vital that the situation does not escalate further. India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so,” it said.

Massive protests erupted in the Kashmir valley over the killing of Iranian military commander General Qasem Soleimani. Hundreds, mostly Shias, chanting anti-US and anti-Israel slogans, took to the streets in several areas, including Badgam and Magam in Budgam district and the Hassanabad locality of Srinagar against the killing of the top commander of the elite Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards.

Meanwhile, Shias in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow have called for protests and a condolence meeting on Saturday for the Iranian commander.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cautioned that the world cannot afford another war in the Gulf, following the killing of Iran’s top military commander in US drone strike.

Voicing deep concern over the escalation of tensions in the Gulf, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General Farhan Haq said, “The Secretary-General has consistently advocated for de-escalation in the Gulf. He is deeply concerned with the recent escalation.”

The UN chief further asked the leaders to exercise maximum restraint.

Iraqi President Barham Saleh called for restraint in a statement, characterising the US strike as an “aggression” and saying Iraq would be destabilised if “voices of reason” did not prevail.

Pakistan has expressed deep concern and called for maximum restraint from all sides after the US killed General Soleimani, dramatically escalating hostilities in the Persian Gulf region.

“Pakistan has viewed with deep concern the recent developments in the Middle East, which seriously threatens peace and stability in the region,” the Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) said.

The FO asked all parties to exercise maximum restraint, engage constructively to de-escalate the situation and resolve issues through diplomatic means in accordance with the UN Charter and international laws.

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General (COAS) Qamar Javed Bajwa in a call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emphasised the “need for maximum restraint and constructive engagement” following the death of Soleimani.

China also appealed for restraint from all sides, “especially the United States”.

“We urge the relevant sides, especially the United States, to remain calm and exercise restraint to avoid further escalating tensions,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a daily press briefing.

The killing of Iran’s most powerful military commander in a US air raid in Iraq marks a “dangerous escalation” of tensions between Washington and Tehran, the Italian government said on Friday, urging diplomatic efforts towards dialogue.

Praising Iranian General Qasem Soleimani’s contribution to the fight against Al Qaeda and IS in Iraq and Syria, Russia’s Defence Ministry on Friday said his killing by the US is a “short-sighted step” that will have “negative consequences” for the Middle East as well as international security.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also condemned the US strike killing General Soleimani.

French President Emmanuel Macron called on all parties to exercise restraint to avoid any new escalation.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned of further escalation of tensions in the Middle East after the United States killed the Iranian commander.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed “severe revenge” after the United States killed the commander of the Islamic republic’s Quds Force, at Donald Trump’s orders.

Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami said that Iran will take a “crushing revenge” for the assassination of the General.

Soleimani died in Iraq capital Baghdad after a volley of missiles were fired near the city’s international airport just after midnight.

The strike also killed the deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary force, the Hashed al-Shaabi. The missile bombardment hit a Hashed convoy and killed eight people, including “important figures”.

Following the killing of Soleimani, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Tehran to protest against American “crimes”. Women and men, many of them elderly, took part in the procession, some holding up portraits of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Following the US drone strike that killed Iran’s most powerful military commander and intelligence chief Major General Qasem Soleimani and others in Baghdad, the US, Israel and France have issued advisories for their respective citizens, anticipating attacks from Tehran.

(With agency inputs)