ISTANBUL — The burial of Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the slain commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was postponed Tuesday due to severe overcrowding and a deadly stampede, officials said.
A spokesman for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a powerful security organ that includes the Quds Force, said that funerals in Soleimani’s hometown, Kerman, were suspended and would be held at a later date. His remarks were carried by the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).
A local official in Kerman, Majid Saeedi, said that emergency responders, the Iranian Red Crescent Society and hospitals in surrounding towns were on alert to receive casualties.
Soleimani, a divisive but popular figure, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad last week. His funeral procession started Saturday in the Iraqi capital and included stops in the shrine cities of Karbala and Najaf, as well as in Ahvaz, Mashhad, Tehran, Qom and Kerman in Iran.
Earlier Tuesday, throngs of supporters filled the streets of Kerman, home to about half a million people, to accompany the commander’s flag-draped coffin to the local cemetery.
As the crowds grew, a crush of people trampled their fellow mourners.
Because of the traffic, the vehicle carrying Soleimani’s body was stopped in the street leading to the cemetery, ISNA quoted the head of the commander’s funeral committee, Mehdi Sadafi, as saying.
“The Iranian people have done their duty today, and the vast ocean of millions of people attending the funeral have confirmed this,” Revolutionary Guard spokesman Ramadan Sharif said, ISNA reported.