Iran was holding a national day of mourning on Thursday to honor victims of the twin explosions that killed 84 people a day earlier during a memorial ceremony for Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, who was killed four years ago in an American drone attack.
General Suleimani, the powerful military leader regarded as a malign force in the West, is revered among many Iranians, especially those who support the government.
Iranian officials had put the death toll for the two blasts, which occurred at the cemetery where General Suleimani is buried in the southern city of Kerman, at 103 on Wednesday. But the interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi, said on Thursday that 84 had been killed, according to Tasnim, a semiofficial news agency.
Speaking during a visit to a hospital that was treating people wounded in the explosions, Mr. Vahidi said the death toll might rise again because of the grave condition of some of the injured. A total of 284 were wounded in the attack, including 220 still hospitalized in Kerman, many of whom were in stable condition or requiring minor surgeries, he said, according to Tasnim.
Iran’s leaders, many of whom initially had directly or indirectly appeared to accuse Israel of responsibility for the blasts, continued on Thursday denouncing what they called a terrorist attack and promising to punish the perpetrators. But they had not, so far, escalated their rhetoric against Israel.
Some analysts and Western officials said on Wednesday that the method of the attack suggested a connection to Sunni militant or separatist groups rather than Israel, which has tended to target specific and limited Iranian targets such as nuclear scientists or security figures, or places such as nuclear sites, rather than masses of civilians.
Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said on the social media platform X on Thursday morning that the government had “initiated immediate legal and international actions through the United Nations regarding the terrorist attack in Kerman.”
It was unclear what such actions might be, but the Iranian state news media published the text of a letter that Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations sent to the Security Council and secretary-general on Wednesday asking them to condemn the attack.
“Comprehensive investigations are currently underway to identify and apprehend the perpetrators and organizers behind this premeditated and appalling crime,” wrote the envoy, Amir Saeid Iravani. “The Islamic Republic of Iran is committed to leveraging all available mechanisms to ensure accountability for those responsible and their accomplices in this heinous terrorist act.”
The United Nations secretary-general, António Guterres, condemned the attack, as did the European Union and countries including Iraq, Qatar and Venezuela.
Tasnim, the news agency, reported that the first explosion occurred at 3:04 p.m. Wednesday as people crowded the road leading toward General Suleimani’s tomb. The second blast came 13 minutes later, it said.
Another semiofficial news agency, IRNA, quoted a police spokesperson as saying that three police officers had been killed in the explosions while trying to help other victims.
The commemoration ceremony was held to mark the fourth anniversary of General Suleimani’s assassination in an American drone strike at Baghdad airport in January 2020. Similar ceremonies honoring the general are held annually.