More than 50 people have been killed and at least 213 were injured in a stampede during the funeral march on Tuesday, January 07, for the Iranian commander killed by a US missile strike.
The Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani’s burial in his hometown of Kerman has been postponed to Wednesday, January 08, due to the size of the crowd.
Iranian police said millions gathered to mourn Suleimani in Tehran, in the largest turnout since the 1989 funeral of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The head of the Quds force was tasked with defending and projecting Iranian interests abroad, and was hailed as a hero by many in his home country.
It is unclear what caused the crush in the south-eastern Iranian city.
It happened at the start of a funeral procession that had drawn vast numbers of people on Tuesday morning, ahead of the planned burial.
A coroner quoted on Iran’s Isna news agency put the death toll at 50, with those injured numbering more than 200.
Video online showed people on the ground, some being administered lifesaving CPR while others have their faces covered by clothing.
Iranian media later reported that the burial had resumed. Video footage showed the procession of Soleimani’s casket. People threw items of clothing which officials touched against the casket before returning them.
Top Iranian officials 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.
Mourners in Kerman chanted “death to America” and “death to Trump”, reporters there said.
Immediately after his death, Iran threatened retaliation against US interest.
To the US, Soleimani was a terrorist, and in explaining why he ordered the strike President Donald Trump said he was acting on an “imminent” threat. (Source: BBC)