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Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vows "harsh response" to deadly bomb attack

Iran vows retribution after memorial blast
Iran promises "harsh response" after explosions at memorial event for general 05:16

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed a "harsh response" to Wednesday's bomb attack on crowds gathered to mark the anniversary of the 2020 assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, as Iran observed a day of mourning Thursday. The attack killed at least 84 people, Iranian authorities said.

"Cruel criminals must know that they will be strongly dealt with from now on," Khamenei said in a statement.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack, which appeared to be the deadliest targeting Iran since the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution. The death toll was revised down to 84 early Thursday by the country's emergency services after initially being reported as over 100. More than 280 people were wounded, according to the emergency services.

Washington denied U.S. involvement and U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the U.S. had "no reason" to believe Israel was involved. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby indicated the same and said "our hearts go out to all the innocent victims and their family members."

Wednesday's twin bombings occurred minutes apart in the city of Kerman, which is just over 500 miles from Iran's capital city, Tehran. A crowd had gathered to mark four years since the assassination Qasem Soleimani, who was the head of the Quds Force, in a U.S. drone strike.

The first explosion took place at about 3 p.m. local time, around 765 yards from Soleimani's grave. As the crowd rushed away from that blast, the second occurred around 20 minutes later on a street they were using to try to get out of the area, The Associated Press reported. A delayed second explosion is a tactic often used by militants to target emergency responders.

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