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Explosion near Qassem Soleimani’s grave in Iran kills at least 103

(CNN) — Two explosions rocked the Iranian city of Kerman on Wednesday near the tomb of military commander Qasem Soleimani, killing at least 103 people and wounding 141 others, state media reported, in what authorities said was an attack for a terrorist attack.

IRNA added that the first explosion occurred 700 meters from Soleimani’s tomb and the second occurred 1 kilometer from Soleimani’s tomb while pilgrims were visiting the site.

Four years ago this Wednesday, Soleimani was killed in an airstrike ordered by former U.S. President Donald Trump on Baghdad International Airport.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Videos released by Iranian state media showed large crowds running in the area after the explosion.

Soleimani is one of Iran’s most powerful figures and leads the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, an elite force responsible for Iran’s overseas operations and considered a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.

The ambulance leaves the scene of the explosion.

The Pentagon said Soleimani and his forces were “responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. and coalition service members and the injuries of thousands more.”

Soleimani, known as Iran’s “shadow commander”, has led the Quds Force since 1998 and is the planner of Iran’s military operations in Iraq and Syria.

The explosion comes at a tense time for the area

The alleged attack comes at a time of high tensions in the region, with Israel engaged in a three-month war with Hamas in Gaza, triggered by the armed group’s attack on Israel on October 7.

The war has killed more than 23,000 people in Gaza and triggered skirmishes in Israel and outside Gaza, often involving Iranian-backed militias, according to the Hamas-controlled enclave’s health ministry.

A senior Hamas leader was killed in an explosion in a Beirut suburb on Tuesday that a U.S. official told CNN was carried out by Israel. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement, but Hamas and Hezbollah, the militant group that controls the suburb, have accused Israel and vowed revenge.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah will speak on Wednesday, his third since the war began. The speech was announced before the attack in Beirut.

Last week, Iran and several of its armed allies accused Israel of assassinating a top Iranian commander in Syria and vowed to retaliate. Israel has not commented on the matter.

Israel accuses Tehran of funding and arming Hamas. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant said last month that Israel was in a “war on multiple fronts” and was under attack from seven places, including Iran. “We have responded and taken action on six of them,” he said.

The United States has also recently increased its military involvement in the Middle East. Last month, the military carried out airstrikes against the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah and its “affiliated groups” in Iraq after the attack wounded three U.S. soldiers.

Last week, U.S. helicopters sank three ships belonging to Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, killing those on board. It was the first U.S. killing of a member of the insurgent group since tensions erupted early last year.

The White House said it was not seeking a major conflict. The Houthis have repeatedly attacked merchant ships in the Red Sea in retaliation for Israeli attacks on Hamas, disrupting trade in one of the world’s most important waterways.

Information from Rob Picheta and Nectar Gan.

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