A stampede in south-central Iran at the funeral of Gen. Qassem Soleimani has killed at least 32 people and injured scores, temporarily suspending the burial of the slain commander of the Quds Force who was killed last week in a U.S. airstrike.
Iranian television said the stampede took place in Kerman, Soleimani’s hometown, where he was to have been buried following a two-day funeral in which his casket traveled to several cities, where hundreds of thousands of Iranians paid respects.
Graphic videos posted online showed people strewn in the streets as others tried to resuscitate them.
Iranian state television gave the figure of 35 dead and 48 injured, but did not cite a source for the numbers. However, the semi-official news agency Fars put the casualties at 32 dead and 190 injured.
“Unfortunately as a result of the stampede, some of our compatriots have been injured and some have been killed during the funeral processions,” Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran’s emergency medical services, told state TV, according to The Associated Press.
The stamped occurred a day after Soleimani’s body traveled to the capital, Tehran, where Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wept at the fallen general’s casket and the commander’s daughter, Zeinab Soleimani, called for revenge, vowing that “the families of the American soldiers … will spend their days waiting for the death of their children.”
The gathering in Tehran, which reports say exceeded 1 million people, is said to be the largest such procession since the one in 1989 for the funeral of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The U.S. says the targeted attack on Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport was meant to thwart an imminent, but unspecified attack and to prevent future attacks that he may have planned.
Soleimani led pro-Syria forces backing the government of President Bashar Assad in that country’s protracted civil war and helped direct Iran’s proxy wars in the region in such countries as Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.