The U.S.-designated terrorist group ISIS could have carried out the deadly bombing in Iran on Wednesday that killed more than 100 people, according to a senior U.S. official.
“It does look like a terrorist attack. The type of thing we’ve seen ISIS do in the past,” said the official. “And as far as we’re aware, that’s … our going assumption at the moment.”
Iranian officials have also blamed the bombing in the southeastern city of Kerman on a terrorist attack, without elaborating on who was behind it.
Iran has for years battled ISIS, an extremist Islamic group that is avowedly anti-Iran and anti-Shia, primarily through proxies in Iraq and Syria. Though ISIS has suffered major losses at the hands of American forces and other groups, it still maintains sleeper cells across the Middle East.
The U.S. and Israel are locked in a tense shadow conflict with Iran across the Middle East amid the war in Gaza. But a strike on Iranian soil would be unprecedented and a major escalation in the region, which the U.S. is trying to prevent.
Israel last month assassinated an Iranian general, but that was on Syrian soil. White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Wednesday there is no indication that Israel was behind the explosion in Kerman.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei condemned the attacks Wednesday and called for a harsh response against the assailants.
The bombing killed 103 people and injured another 141, according to Iranian state-run media outlets.
Crowds of people had gathered at the Martyrs Cemetery in Kerman to mark the four-year anniversary of the death of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was slain in a U.S. drone strike in 2020.
There were two explosions Wednesday at the tomb of Soleimani, one just a couple hundred feet from the site and another more than half a mile away. Iranian officials believe the second explosion, which came 20 minutes after the first, caused most of the fatalities.
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