Several people were reportedly killed in Iran on Tuesday in a deadly stampede at the funeral of General Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) elite Quds Force, who was killed in a US strike last week.
Iran’s state TV has reported that at least 35 people have been killed in a stampede that erupted in the Iranian city of Kerman at the funeral procession.
Another 48 people are said to be wounded, according to local media reports.
Hundreds of thousands of mourners had gathered for the burial of Soleimani.
Videos circulating on social media showed people lying lifeless on the ground, while others were shouting for help.
The deadly stampede broke out when the general’s flag-draped coffin was making itself slowly along the streets of the city of Kerman.
“Unfortunately as a result of the stampede, some of our compatriots have been injured and some have been killed during the funeral processions,” said Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran’s emergency medical services.
General Qasem Soleimani was killed along with eight others in a US airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump early on Friday.
Pentagon officials confirmed that at the direction of the US President, the military had taken the decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani.
The IRGC said that Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of the Hashd Shaabi or the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed along with Soleimani in the strike that targeted their vehicle on the Baghdad International Airport road.
The White House in a statement said that at the direction of the President, the US military took a “decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad” by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.
It added that General Soleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region”.
Meanwhile, Iran has termed the US action of “international terrorism” as “extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation”.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had declared a three-day mourning for the deceased leader while vowing “severe revenge” on the US.
A procession in Tehran a day earlier drew over one million people, crowding both main thoroughfares and side streets. It saw Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei weep openly as he led funeral prayers in front of Tehran University.