NBC NEWS – At least two dozen people died in a stampede Tuesday during the funeral procession for Qassem Soleimani, the top Iranian commander killed in an American airstrike last week, emergency services told state media.
Soleimani’s burial was postponed after as many as 40 people were killed and more than 200 injured during the crush in his hometown of Kerman, an emergency services official told Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency.
Even before the deaths, Soleimani’s final funeral procession was an hours-long and deeply emotional event. It was the latest mass outpouring of anger and grief across the country after a U.S. airstrike killed Soleimani and others near Baghdad airport in neighboring Iraq.
Iranian officials have vowed to avenge Soleimani, who was head of the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
He was a hugely influential figure across the Middle East and seen by many Iranians as a hero who had restored national pride.
The United Kingdom’s ambassador to Iran, Rob Macaire, tweeted he was “deeply sorry to hear about the loss of life” during the funeral in Kerman.
Deeply sorry to hear about the loss of life at today’s events in Kerman. All condolences to those affected.
از شنیدن خبر از دست دادن جان عده ای در مراسم کرمان عمیقاً متاسفم و ابراز همدردی می نمایم
— Rob Macaire (@HMATehran) January 7, 2020
This is a developing story — check back for updates soon.