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Over 50 people killed in stampede at funeral procession of Iranian general killed by US

The incident happened in Kerman, the hometown of General Qassem Soleimani.

The coffin of Qassem Soleimani carried through the city of Kerman in Iran.
The coffin of Qassem Soleimani carried through the city of Kerman in Iran.
Image: AP/PA Images

Updated Jan 7th 2020, 4:15 PM

A STAMPEDE AT the funeral procession for a top Iranian general killed in a US airstrike last week has left over 50 people dead and more than 200 injured, according to reports.

The stampede took place in Kerman, the home town of Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani, as the procession got under way. Videos posted online showed people lying lifeless on a road.

The semi-official Fars and ISNA news agencies offered the new toll, quoting Pirhossein Koulivand, the head of Iran’s emergency medical services.

“Unfortunately as a result of the stampede, some of our compatriots have been injured and some have been killed during the funeral processions,” he said.

A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over a million people in the Iranian capital.

Gen Soleimani’s death has sparked calls across Iran for revenge against America for a killed that has drastically raised tensions across the Middle East.

Early on Tuesday, the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatened to “set ablaze” places supported by the US over the killing, sparking cries from the crowd of supporters of “Death to Israel!”

Hossein Salami made the pledge before a crowd of thousands gathered in a central square in Kerman before a coffin carrying Gen Soleimani’s remains.

The outpouring of grief was an unprecedented honour for a man viewed by Iranians as a national hero for his work leading the Guard’s expeditionary Quds Force.

The US blames him for the killing of American troops in Iraq and accused him of plotting new attacks just before his death on Friday in a drone strike near Baghdad’s international airport. He also led forces in Syria backing President Bashar Assad in a long war, and served as a go-between for Tehran in countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

supreme-leader-khamenei-visits-the-soleimani-family Iranian Revolution supreme leader Ali Khamenei during a visit to the family of Qassem Soleimani. Source: Balkis Press/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

‘Martyr’ 

His killing has pushed Tehran to abandon the remaining limits of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as his successor and others vowed to take revenge.

The Baghdad parliament has called for the expulsion of all American troops from Iraqi soil, something analysts fear could allow so-called Islamic State militants to mount a comeback.

Speaking in Kerman, Salami praised Gen Soleimani’s exploits, describing him as essential to backing Palestinian groups, Yemen’s Houthi rebels and Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria. As a martyr, Soleimani represents an even greater threat to Iran’s enemies, he added.

According to a report today by the semi-official Tasnim news agency, Iran has worked up 13 sets of plans for revenge for Soleimani’s killing.

The report quoted Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, as saying that even the weakest among them would be a “historic nightmare” for the US, but declined to give any details.

“If the U.S. troops do not leave our region voluntarily and upright, we will do something to carry their bodies horizontally out,” Shamkhani said.

Iran’s parliament passed an urgent bill declaring the US military’s command at the Pentagon and those acting on its behalf in Soleimani’s killing as “terrorists” subject to Iranian sanctions.

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The measure appears to be an attempt to mirror a decision by President Donald Trump in April to declare the Revolutionary Guard a “terrorist organisation”.

The US Defence Department used the designation to support the strike that killed Soleimani.

He will be buried later today between the graves of Enayatollah Talebizadeh and Mohammad Hossein Yousef Elahi, two former Guard comrades. The two died in Operation Dawn 8 in Iran’s 1980s war with Iraq in which Soleimani also took part.

- Additional reporting by AFP 

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