Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly suicide bombings in Iran


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings on Thursday In memory of an Iranian general killed in a 2020 US drone strikeIt is the worst terrorist attack on Iran in decades as the wider Middle East remains under threat.

Experts tracking the group confirmed that the statement circulated among jihadists online came from extremists possibly hoping to take advantage of the chaos in the region. Israel's war on Hamas In Gaza Strip.

At least 84 people were killed and 284 others were injured in Wednesday's attack in Kerman. An honor ceremony was targeted in this Revolutionary Guard General Qasim SuleimaniHeld as a symbol by supporters of the country's theocracy and viewed as a deadly enemy by the US military who aided terrorists who killed US troops in Iraq.

On Thursday, chunks of asphalt appeared missing from the road where a bomb exploded, suggesting the bomb had been packed with shrapnel to increase its deadly impact. Congealed blood of the injured is still lying at another place.

"As soon as I turned to say to my husband's sister, 'Let's go to the square,' the bomb exploded," Mahdieh Sazmand, 38, told The Associated Press from her Kerman hospital bed. "If we had been just 10 steps ahead we would have been right in front of the bomb."

The Islamic State group claims that the two attackers have been identified as Omar al-Mowahid and Seif-Allah al-Mujahid. The claim states that people carried out the attacks with explosive jackets. It also used derogatory language when discussing Shias, whom the Islamic State group considers heretics.

The statement did not mention which regional branch of the extremists carried out the attack, contrary to other claims in the past. But Aaron Y., a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Zelin said some of the previous claims did not specify the regional branch, and the latest claim came from an account directly linked to the group.

Zelin said the group expects Iran to attack Israel, turning its war against Hamas into a regional conflict that the Islamic State could potentially exploit.

"This falls within the modus operandi of IS, especially since it was a mass-casualty attack," Zelin said. “They're kind of like clowns. They want to see the world burn. They don't care how it happens as long as it benefits them."

People walk down a street toward the grave of late Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in the city of Kerman, about 510 miles (820 kilometers) southeast of the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024.  Investigators believe the suicide bomber may have carried out the attack in memory of an Iranian general killed in a 2020 US drone strike, state media reported on Thursday, as Iran reeled from its biggest mass-casualty attack in decades. Struggling and the broader Middle East remains on the sidelines.  (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

People walk down a street toward the grave of late Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in the city of Kerman, about 510 miles (820 kilometers) southeast of the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024. Investigators believe the suicide bomber may have carried out the attack in memory of an Iranian general killed in a 2020 US drone strike, state media reported on Thursday, as Iran reeled from its biggest mass-casualty attack in decades. Struggling and the broader Middle East remains on the sidelines. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

A man waves a huge flag bearing the name of Shia saint Abolfazl on a road leading to the tomb of late Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in the city of Kerman, about 510 miles (820 kilometers) southeast of the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Thursday .  , January 4, 2024.  Investigators believe suicide bombers may have carried out an attack in memory of an Iranian general killed in a 2020 US drone strike, state media reported on Thursday, as Iran reeled from its biggest mass-casualty attack in decades. Is struggling.  The wider Middle East remains on the sidelines.  (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

A man waves a huge flag bearing the name of Shia saint Abolfazl on a road leading to the tomb of late Iranian Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in the city of Kerman, about 510 miles (820 kilometers) southeast of the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Thursday . , January 4, 2024. Investigators believe suicide bombers may have carried out an attack in memory of an Iranian general killed in a 2020 US drone strike, state media reported on Thursday, as Iran reeled from its biggest mass-casualty attack in decades. Is struggling. The wider Middle East remains on the sidelines. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Islamic State group first Claimed attack in June 2017 At least 18 people were killed and more than 50 were injured in attacks on the parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran. The group also claimed two other attacks.

The extremist group, which once captured vast territory in Iraq and Syria in a self-described caliphate declared in 2014, was ultimately defeated by US-led forces. It has been in disarray over the years, although it has carried out major attacks. For example, the Islamic State group is believed to have a hand in neighboring Afghanistan. increased strength Since the fall of the Western-backed government there to the Taliban in 2021.

The claim came as the extremists separately called on supporters around the world to avenge the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip by attacking Christians and Jews. The group also criticized Palestinian factions for aligning with Iran and said Tehran was merely taking advantage of the situation to appear as a protector of the Palestinians.

Iranian government officials did not immediately acknowledge the claim, although state media reported on it. Officials were indirectly blaming Israel for the attack and on Thursday in Kerman, passersby stepped over signs bearing the image of the Israeli flag and the slogan "Death to Israel" written in Farsi.

An earlier report by the state-run IRNA news agency, later broadcast by state television, quoted an unnamed "informed source" as saying that surveillance footage apparently showed a male walking through the route of commemoration at Kerman's Matriarch cemetery. The suicide bomber is shown detonating explosives.

The official said the second blast was "probably" carried out by another suicide bomber, although this was not determined beyond doubt.

Mohammad Mehdi Ghalekhani, a volunteer with the Revolutionary Guards' Basij force, was wounded in an attack he described as horrific.

"I didn't understand exactly what happened, it happened so suddenly," he told the AP. “When this happened many people were killed, and most people were injured. Those who died, no part of their body was safe - not the entire hand or face.'

Iranian state media reports gave new distances for how far away the explosions occurred, describing them as 1.5 kilometers (about a mile) and 2.7 kilometers (1.68 miles) from Soleimani's grave. The official said the attackers probably chose the locations because they were outside the security perimeter for the commemoration.

Health officials said officials realized that some names were repeated in the list of victims and that the earlier death toll of 103 was revised twice due to the severity of wounds suffered by some of the deceased. However, many of the injured are in critical condition, so the death toll may rise.

Authorities planned to hold a mass funeral service Friday for those killed, although the event was possibly planned for late Thursday due to security concerns in Kerman, about 820 kilometers (510 miles) southeast of Iran's capital, Tehran. Was changed.

The gathering marked the fourth anniversary of the killing of Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guard's elite Quds Force, in a US drone strike in Iraq. The blasts occurred when long queues of people had gathered to celebrate the event.

The attacks came a day after the attack on the deputy chief of Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. A suspect killed in Israeli attack in Beirut, Also late last month, another Revolutionary Guard commander was killed in a suspected Israeli airstrike in Syria.

Those attacks, as well as attacks on shipping in the Red Sea by Iranian-backed rebels known as the Houthis in Yemen, have raised concerns of the Israel-Hamas war escalating into a broader regional conflict.

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Maroué reported from Beirut.



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