The Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the double bombing that rocked the southeastern Iranian city of Kerman on Wednesday, killing at least 84 people.
The jihadist group released blurry photos of the two suicide bombers and claimed they carried out the devastating attacks by detonating their explosives-laden vests. The claim went out on ISIS’ Telegram channel on Thursday.
The attack, now considered the deadliest in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, took place during a commemoration at a cemetery marking the fourth anniversary of the death of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike at Baghdad airport in 2020.
The timing and target of the strike raised tensions, particularly in the context of the ongoing war in Gaza. Some Iranian officials pointed the finger at the United States and Israel after the attack and vowed to retaliate. This sentiment was fuelled by the attack’s focus on the memorial.
“I warn the Zionist regime: Do not doubt that you will pay a heavy price for this crime and the crimes you have committed,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said in a televised speech on Wednesday.
The bombings also came just a day after Saleh al-Arouri, deputy leader of the Palestinian armed group Hamas and a known ally of Iran, was killed in a suspected Israeli drone strike in Beirut, Lebanon. This led to speculation about a possible link between the two incidents.
The United States, however, denied any involvement in the Kerman bombing and rejected the notion of Israeli culpability. Washington officials instead pointed to the possible role of ISIS or an affiliated Sunni extremist group.
ISIS gave no further details of the attack in its statement. However, the group has previously targeted shrines and religious sites in Iran, as it considers the Shia branch of Islam to be heretical.