A pair of explosions in Iran on Wednesday in the cemetery where the Iranian spymaster Qassim Suleimani is buried killed dozens of people, state media reported, heightening tensions in the region even further a day after a drone strike killed several Hamas officials in a suburb of Beirut, Lebanon.
Tasnim News and IRNA, both semiofficial Iranian news agencies, quoted security officials saying that the incident was being investigated as a terrorist attack, but did not identify a suspect.
The explosions in Kerman, Iran, came four years after an American drone strike assassinated General Suleimani, the longtime commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ powerful Quds Force, at Baghdad airport.
State media accounts gave different death tolls, but IRNA had the highest, reporting that 53 people had died. Tasnim said 50 people had been taken to medical centers and that the area was evacuated after the two explosions, which occurred minutes apart in the crowded cemetery. IRNA and Fars News, another semiofficial news agency, said 71 had been injured.
General Suleimani had been hailed in Iran and in parts of the wider region as a hero for building a Tehran-led network of regional militias that countered the United States and Israel across the Middle East, and he continues to enjoy near-mythic status among pro-government Iranians.
That network included Hamas, the military and political group that controls Gaza, as well as Hezbollah, the armed political party that dominates much of Lebanon. Hezbollah has been clashing with Israeli forces on Lebanon’s southern border even as Hamas battles Israel in Gaza.