Stampede at funeral leaves dozens dead
More than 50 people were killed and 212 people injured in the stampede in Kerman, says ISNA
Dozens of people were crushed to death after a stampede broke out on Tuesday during a massive funeral procession for a top Iranian general assassinated in a US drone strike.
The tragedy came as grieving crowds packed the hometown of Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani, a hugely popular figure in the Islamic republic.
More than 50 people were killed and 212 people injured in the stampede in Kerman, semiofficial news agency ISNA said, citing the emergency services chief in the southeastern city, Mohammad Saberi.
Anxious Iranians gathered outside a city hospital to check the lists of victims or show doctors pictures of their missing relatives.
Correspondents in Kerman said the streets were filled with mourners, while others took refuge on hillsides around the city, where the general was to be buried at the martyrs’ cemetery. after the US leader issued a US strike list of 52 targets in the Islamic republic.
On Tuesday, Iranian lawmakers voted to designate all US forces around the world ‘terrorists’ over Soleimani’s killing.
Parliament also agreed to bolster the coffers of the Quds Force, which Soleimani led, by tary figure Abu Mahdi al Muhandis. Baghdad requested in a letter to the UN that the Security Council condemn the US strike so that ‘the law of the jungle’ is not allowed to prevail.
The operation represented ‘a dangerous escalation that could lead to a devastating war in Iraq, the region and the world,’ wrote Iraq’s UN Ambassador Mohammed Hussein Bahr-Aluloom.
Germany said on Tuesday it was withdrawing some of its troops deployed to the anti-IS coalition in Iraq.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned on Monday that Iran must avoid ‘further violence and provocations’.
The European Union, whose foreign ministers will hold emergency talks on the crisis on Friday, said it was in both Iran and Iraq’s interests to ‘take the path of sobriety and not the path of escalation’.
Saudi Arabia also appealed for calm after a ‘very dangerous’ escalation.
People gather around a vehicle carrying the coffin of slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on Tuesday