Dozens killed in stampede at Qassem Soleimani’s funeral in Iran
The Iranian military commander killed by US air raid laid to rest in Kerman as large crowds attended his funeral.
At least 56 people have been killed in a stampede in the southeastern Iranian city of Kerman at the funeral procession for top Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Soleimani assassinated in an air raid by the United States.
Iranian state TV said at least 56 people have been killed and more than 200 injured in the stampede, citing security sources.
Earlier, the head of the country’s emergency services, Pirhossein Koolivand, told state television that “190 were injured” due to “overcrowding”.
The injured were immediately transferred to the hospital, he added.
Initial videos posted online showed people lying lifeless on a road, others shouting and trying to help them.
Hundreds of thousands of people had gathered in Kerman for the burial of Soleimani, the head of Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, who was assassinated on Friday near the Baghdad airport.
Officials lowered the shroud-wrapped remains of Soleimani into the ground in Kerman just before 6am on Wednesday. Mourners at the grave site wailed.
Tuesday’s funeral comes after days of processions that attracted huge crowds in the streets of Ahvaz in southwestern Iran, followed by Mashhad in the northeast, the capital Tehran and the holy city of Qom.
A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over one million people in the Iranian capital.
Al Jazeera’s Assed Beig, reporting from Tehran, said many who were unable to attend the previous gatherings had made their way to the final procession in Kerman.
“People are travelling in narrow spaces, going in one direction to that specific graveyard – and that could be one of the reasons as to why a stampede has happened,” Beig said.
The assassination of Soleimani triggered a dramatic escalation of tensions in the region and marked the most significant confrontation between the US and Iran in recent years.
Tehran has since responded, hitting US military sites in Iraq with missiles on Wednesday morning.