A stampede at the funeral of slain Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani has left at least 50 people dead and over 200 injured, according to Iranian state television.
Soleimani, killed in a U.S. airstrike Thursday at Baghdad International Airport, was to be buried in his hometown of Kerman. The burial was postponed after throngs of people who turned out for the funeral made it impossible for vehicles to reach the cemetery. The crowds apparently overwhelmed authorities organizing the funeral.
“The death toll of this incident is over 50,” said Abbas Amian, the director general of the coroner bureau in Kerman, in comments to the state-run IRNA news agency. “Most of them are men, ranging from young to adults.”
Amian said 213 people were injured in the stampede.
Tuesday was the final day of funeral proceedings for Soleimani, and Iranian officials continued to issue calls for revenge against the U.S. for the strike.
“I say the last word first. We will take revenge,” said IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami. “If they make another move, we will set fire to the place they love.”
However, the Financial Times reported that some in Iran’s government are hoping to avoid an all-out war with the U.S.
“We cannot ignore this aggression easily and have to prevent the U.S. from repeating its rogue behaviour,” said Hamid-Reza Taraghi, a conservative politician. “But our strategy is retaliation in such a way that we do not go to a war.”
According to multiple reports, the U.S. is in the process of deploying 3,500 troops to bases in Kuwait following the strike, in preparation for a possible response by Iran.