TEHRAN, IRAN (AP) — A stampede erupted yesterday at a funeral procession for top Iranian military commander General Qasem Soleimani killed in a United States (US) airstrike last week, killing 35 people and injuring 48 others, state television reported.
According to the report, the stampede took place in Kerman, the hometown of Soleimani, as the procession got underway. Initial videos posted online showed people lying lifeless on a road, others shouting and trying to help them.
Iranian state TV gave the casualty toll in its online report, without saying where it obtained the information. The head of Iran’s emergency medical services Pirhossein Koulivand earlier spoke by telephone to state TV and confirmed the stampede took place.
“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 one million people in the Iranian capital, crowding both main thoroughfares and side streets in Tehran.
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. Soleimani also led forces in Syria backing President Bashar Assad in a long war, and he also served as the point man for Iranian proxies in countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
Soleimani will be buried tomorrow 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.