New Zimbabwe.com

Qasem Soleimani: Stampede kills 40 mourners at burial in Iran

Spread This News

BBC

Forty people have been killed in a stampede as Iranians flocked to the burial of a top commander killed in a US drone strike, officials say.

The deaths in Qasem Soleimani’s hometown of Kerman led to the postponement of his interment. A new time will be announced later.

Millions are already estimated to have packed the streets for a series of funeral processions in Iran.

Soleimani’s killing has raised fears of a conflict between the US and Iran.

He was widely considered the second most powerful man in Iran behind Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The US saw him as a terrorist and a threat to American troops.

US President Donald Trump adopted a tough stance against Iran after his election, and Tehran responded with their own campaign. Tensions were raised further last month after the US attacked an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq that it blamed for attacks on US forces.

It is unclear what caused the stampede in Kerman, south-eastern Iran, but vast numbers of people had been in the streets on Tuesday morning ahead of the planned burial.

Pirhossein Koolivand, head of the country’s emergency services, told Iranian media that “213 people have been injured and 40 lost their lives because of overcrowding at the funeral procession”.

Top Iranian officials have renewed their threats of revenge.

“The martyr Qassem Soleimani is more powerful… now that he is dead,” the Revolutionary Guards’ top general, Maj Gen Hossein Salami, told crowds in Kerman.

The Guards were set up to defend Iran’s Islamic system and are a major political and military force.

Soleimani was head of the Quds force, the overseas branch of the Revolutionary Guards. He was killed leaving Baghdad airport on Friday.

In his homeland, Soleimani was hailed by some as a national hero.

But he was also a hardliner and a dominant force in a state that shot dead scores of protesters at the end of 2019.

Soleimani supported Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s civil conflict, aided the Shia militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon, and guided Iraqi militia groups against the Islamic State group.

Justifying the strike, President Trump said Soleimani was plotting “imminent” attacks on US diplomats and military personnel.