Iranian Press via AFPTV
Ambulances leave the site of the explosion near the tomb of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in southern Iran, January 3.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for deadly twin explosions near the burial site of slain military commander Qasem Soleimani in southern Iran.
At least 84 people were killed and 284 wounded in Wednesday’s explosions, state news agency IRNA reported, in what was the deadliest attack in Iran since its 1979 revolution.
ISIS’s media wing, Al-Furqan, issued a statement on Thursday, more than 24 hours after the explosions, claiming that two suicide bombers had detonated their explosive vests as Shiite mourners gathered for the fourth anniversary of Soleimani’s assassination. near his grave in his hometown of Kerman. .
The statement, titled “And kill them wherever you find them,” names the two attackers and says they targeted a gathering of “polytheists” near the grave of their “dead leader” Soleimani.
ISIS considers the Shiite branch of Islam heretical and has previously attacked shrines and religious sites in Iran.
The group offered no further evidence and its version of the explosions differs from that given by Iranian media. The death toll provided by ISIS was also significantly higher than reported by Iranian officials.
Iran did not immediately comment on ISIS’s claim of responsibility.
Iran’s interior minister said the two explosions occurred in short succession, and the second, more lethal one, occurred as others rushed to help the wounded.
Another state media outlet, IRINN, said the first explosion was caused by a bomb placed in a suitcase inside a car and appeared to have been detonated remotely rather than caused by a suicide bomber.
Videos showed large numbers of people running through the area after the explosions, bloody bodies on the ground and ambulances pushing through the crowd.
Iran declared a day of mourning on Thursday and President Ebhrahim Raisi canceled a planned trip to Turkey.
MEHR NEWS/AFP/Getty Images
The two explosions took place about 20 minutes apart, Iran’s Interior Minister said.
The accusations arose in the time between the explosions and ISIS’s declaration. Iran’s President Ebhrahim Raisi blamed Israel for the explosions and warned it would pay a “heavy price.” The Israeli military told CNN it had “no comment” on the matter.
Before ISIS’s statement, analysts and a U.S. official had speculated that the explosion had the hallmarks of a terrorist attack.
“It looks like a terrorist attack, the kind of thing we’ve seen ISIS do in the past. And as far as we know, I think that’s our current assumption right now,” the official said.
Soleimani, previously one of Iran’s most powerful men, was killed by US airstrike ordered by former President Donald Trump at Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.
Known as Iran’s “shadow commander,” he was head of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, an elite unit that manages Iran’s operations abroad and was considered a foreign terrorist organization by the United States. He planned Iranian military operations in Iraq and Syria.
This is a developing story and will be updated.