Two bombs exploded in the city of Kerman, Iran killing at least 84 people at a commemoration honoring the fourth anniversary of the death of Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani who was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in 2020, the Associated Press reported.
The explosions occurred just minutes apart on January 3 with the second blast spraying shrapnel into the crowd fleeing the first explosion. The attack injured at least 284 people, many of whom were in critical condition.
The following day, ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombings.
In a statement issued on January 4, the ISIS media wing Al-Furqan said that two brothers detonated explosive vests as the Shiite mourners were gathering for the commemoration of Soleimani’s assassination.
ISIS views Shiites as heretics and has in the past targeted religious sites and shrines in Iran.
Gen. Soleimani is buried in Kerman and the explosions went off near the gravesite as long lines of people were gathering for the commemoration.
The first bomb detonated at 3:00 p.m. local time on January 3, with a second explosion occurring about 20 minutes later, according to Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi.
Vahidi said the second blast was responsible for most of the dead and wounded.
Photos and video footage posted on social media appeared to confirm the official accounts that the first explosion was about 765 yards (700 meters) from the gravesite near the parking lot of Kerman Martyrs Cemetary.
The crowd then fled west on Shohada Street where the second explosion went off about 1 kilometer away from the gravesite.
Delaying a second explosion is a common tactic used by terrorists to inflict a higher casualty count by targeting first responders.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed a “harsh response” to the attack.
President Ebrahim Raisi warned that the perpetrators would “soon be identified and punished.”