At least 50 people have been killed and more than 200 injured in a stampede as Iranians gathered for the funeral procession of General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad last week.
The deaths in the top military commander’s hometown of Kerman led to the burial ceremony being delayed.
Qasem Soleimani’s burial is the last in a series of funeral events that have brought millions on to the streets in Iran.
His killing has raised fears of a conflict between the US and Iran.
Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds force, was tasked with defending and projecting Iranian interests abroad, and was hailed as a hero by many in his home country. Immediately after his death, Iran threatened retaliation.
To the US, Qasem Soleimani was a terrorist, and in explaining why he ordered the strike, President Donald Trump said he was acting on an “imminent” threat.
The crush in Kerman happened at the start of a funeral procession that had drawn vast numbers of people on January 7, ahead of the planned burial.
According to officials, quoted on Iran’s Isna news agency, the death toll at 50, with those injured numbering more than 200.
Video online showed people on the ground with their faces covered by clothing.
Iranian media later reported that the burial had resumed. Video footage showed the procession of Qasem Soleimani’s casket. People threw items of clothing which officials touched against the casket before returning them.
Top Iranian officials renewed their threats of revenge. “The martyr Qasem Soleimani is more powerful… now that he is dead,” the Revolutionary Guards’ top general, Maj. Gen, Hossein Salami, told crowds in Kerman.
The Guards were set up to defend Iran’s Islamic system and are a major political and military force. The Quds Force is its overseas operations arm.
According to local reports, mourners in Kerman chanted “death to America” and “death to Trump”.