Jan. 7 (UPI) — A stampede during the funeral procession for slain Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in his hometown of Kerman, lran, killed nearly three dozen people Tuesday, state and Iranian media reported.
At least 35 people died in the crowd, officials said.
Iranian state television cited emergency services officials in reporting at least another 48 were injured in the stampede, which began as millions of mourners carried Soleimani from Kerman’s Azadi Square to his burial site in a martyrs’ cemetery.
State-run news agency IRNA reported Pir Hossein Kolivand, the head of Iran’s Emergency Center, confirmed casualties but didn’t specify the number. Soleimani’s burial ceremony, which was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, was canceled in light of the stampede.
The massive crowds in Kerman, about 615 miles southeast of Tehran, mirrored others Sunday and Monday in the capital and elsewhere that honored the slain Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander. The rallies also condemned the United States with crowd chants of “down with the U.S.” and “down with Israel.”
Soleimani, the head of IRGC’s Quds Force, was killed Jan. 2 in an airstrike near Baghdad’s international airport in Iraq. Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, an adviser to Soleimani, was also killed in the attack.
U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the attack after protesters angered by deadly Dec. 29 U.S. airstrikes against the Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary group Kataib Hezbollah stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.