MEA said, peace and security in this region is of utmost importance to India (Photo Credit: PTI File)
India has called for restraint after killing of a top Iranian General by United States. Qasem Soleimani, head of Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations arm, was killed by drone strikes by US in Baghdad.
India, in the first official reaction to the incident, said: "We have noted that a senior Iranian leader has been killed by US. Increase in tension has alarmed the world. Peace and security in this region is of utmost importance to India. It is vital that situation doesn't escalate. India has consistently advocated restraint and continues to do so."
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has warned of "severe revenge" for "the criminals who bloodied their foul hands with his blood" after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confirmed the commander of its Quds Force was killed in airstrikes outside a Baghdad airport.
Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite al-Quds force and architect of its regional security apparatus, was killed when a drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the Baghdad International Airport early on Friday. The strike also killed the deputy chief of Iraq's powerful Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary force and some local Iran-backed militias.
Soleimani (62) was widely seen as the second most powerful figure in Iran behind the Ayatollah Khamenei. His Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, reported directly to the ayatollah and he was hailed as a heroic national figure.
The Pentagon confirmed the death of Soleimani in the air strike, saying the military action was carried out at the direction of President Donald Trump.
"At the direction of the president, the US military has taken decisive defensive action to protect US personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation," the Pentagon said in a statement.
The strike comes days after Trump threatened Tehran after Iraqi supporters of pro-Iranian regime factions laid siege to the US embassy in Baghdad, following deadly American air strikes on a hardline Hashed faction. The Pentagon said that Soleimani had "orchestrated" attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months - including the attack on December 27 - culminating in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel.
In Tehran, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "severe revenge awaits the criminals" behind the attack. He also announced three days of national mourning. Khamenei then extolled Soleimani saying dying for the cause was the general's great wish.
"For years it was his wish to become a martyr, and finally God granted him his highest office", he said. President Hasan Rouhani, reacting to Soleimani's killing, said it had "redoubled the determination of the nation of Iran and other free nations to stand against America's bullying and defend Islamic values".
Meanwhile, global oil prices have soared by more than four per cent in the wake of the attack.
(With PTI Inputs)