At approximately 1530 local time (1200 UTC) on 3 January 2024, unidentified assailants remotely detonated two explosive devices near the city of Kerman, located approximately 990 km (615 mi) southeast of the capital Tehran, during a ceremony to commemorate the 2020 death of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Local media reported that the first explosion occurred on a road leading to the cemetery where Soleimani was buried, while the second explosion reportedly occurred outside the main path of the commemoration event approximately 1 km (0.5 mi) from the shrine and burial site. At least 73 people were killed and 170 more were injured in the blasts.
Iranian authorities called the event a terrorist attack. While several militant groups do operate in Iran — including the Islamic State Khorasan Province group, Baluch separatists and others — it is not clear who was responsible for the attack. Travelers in the Kerman area, as well as in the capital Tehran, should expect a heightened security presence in and around major sites. Individuals in the vicinity of Kerman should expect delays in travel and emergency response.
While the consequences of this attack are likely to remain localized to Iran, travelers in the Middle East region should maintain heightened vigilance. Gen. Soleimani was assassinated by the U.S. military in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2020 — an act for which Iran has long promised revenge. Given the current fluid environment in the Middle East, particularly with regard to the Israeli invasion of Gaza and cross-border conflict between Israel and Hizballah, this attack on a funeral commemoration for Soleimani is likely to further escalate already heightened tensions in the region.