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Iran Vows Firm Response to Terror Attack in Kerman

By Nigar Bayramli January 5, 2024


People gather at the scene of explosions during a ceremony held to mark the death of late Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, in Kerman, Iran, January 3, 2024. / WANA via Reuters

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi have pledged to punish those responsible for the terrorist blast that killed 84 people and wounded 284 in the southern city of Kerman.

“As of now, both the hands stained with the blood of innocent people and the corrupt, evil minds that led them to this miscalculation will definitely be the target of a severe pounding and deserving retribution. They should know that God willing, this tragedy will be met with a strong response,” Khamenei's official website reported on January 3. 

The Iranian leader expressed his condolences following the twin blasts during a public procession commemorating slain commander Qasem Soleimani, who was the commander of the elite Quds Force, the external arm of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). The commander was killed in a US air strike outside Baghdad's international airport in January 2020.

According to Tasnim News Agency, affiliated with the IRGC, two explosive-laden bags were placed at the entrance of the cemetery where Soleimani's grave is located. The bombs were detonated remotely by perpetrators, the report said, without offering further details.

The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the two explosions in Iran, in a statement posted on its affiliate Telegram channels. The group said two IS members had detonated explosive belts in the crowd that had gathered at the cemetery in the southeastern Iranian city of Kerman on January 3.

Iran's Prosecutor General Mohammad Kazem Movahedi Azad said that "America and Israel, who have nosedived to the point where they are scared of the pilgrims of the honourable martyr, Haj Qasem Soleimani."

President Raisi also vowed punishment for perpetrators, saying that “undoubtedly, the perpetrators of this cowardly act will soon be identified and punished for their heinous act”.

“The Iranian nation will be more determined to stand in the battlefield of the fight against the enemies until uprooting the terror and violence,” Raisi added.

The Iranian president postponed his visit to Türkiye, scheduled for January 4, to discuss the situations in Gaza and Syria as well as bilateral ties. This is the second time President Raisi's visit to Türkiye has been cancelled. He was initially scheduled to travel to Türkiye in November but his trip was postponed at the last minute for unknown reasons.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a message of condolence to his Iranian counterpart a few hours after the attacks, condemning the terrorist attack on civilians.

Erdogan expressed Türkiye’s support for Iran in its fight against terrorism, and wished the Iranian people patience for their losses, and reiterated his call for joint action in the fight against terrorism.

Soleimani's successor Brig Gen Esmail Qaani saw a link between the attacks in Kerman to other recent developments including the assassination of Hamas deputy leader, Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut and the killing of Seyyed Razi Mousavi, a senior IRGC commander, in Syria in an air strike.

In his speech at a ceremony in Tehran, Qaani described these incidents as Israel's attempts to compensate for its "failures" in its ongoing war in Gaza. The commander highlighted the US support to Israel and warned that "a time will come when America will face severe consequences for backing the Zionist regime".