Tens of thousands of Iranians shouting "Death to America!" Thursday buried victims of an Iranian airliner shot down by the U.S. Navy. President Ali Khamenei vowed to avenge the killing "with all our might."
The funeral procession started in front of the Majlis, or parliament, with 76 coffins draped with Iranian flags.Khamenei, Parliament Speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani and Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, the designated successor of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, led the procession in downtown Tehran.
Other ceremonies were held in the southern city of Lar, in the southeastern city of Zahedan, and in Bandar Abbas, the port city from where the ill-fated jetliner departed Sunday for Dubai, across the Persian Gulf.
Fourteen victims were buried Wednesday in Bandar Abbas and 10 others were buried at Zahedan, Iranian television reported.
The Airbus A300 was shot down while the USS Vincennes was engaged in battle with Iranian gunboats, U.S. officials said. The Navy said its forces mistook the plane for an F-14 jet fighter.
The plane was carrying 290 people. The bodies of 200 victims have been recovered from the water, and arrangements were under way to send the bodies of the foreign nationals on board, mainly Arabs and Asians, to their countries.
In Bahrain, a team of U.S. military experts began an inquiry into the attack by questioning senior officers of the Navy cruiser, U.S. sources said.
"Death to America!" shouted angry male demonstrators, beating their chests with their fists in a traditional sign of mourning. Others shouted "Down with Reagan!" as they paraded in front of the parliament building and later through the streets of Tehran, carrying the coffins on their shoulders.
"We will fight America until victory! War, war, until victory!" they shouted.
Some women, clad in head-to-toe black chadors, wept. Others sprinkled the wooden coffins with rosewater.
The green, white and red Iranian flag, with Allah written in the middle, flew at half-staff atop the parliament building.
Forty-eight other victims were buried in the other Iranian cities Wednesday and Thursday, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Khamenei, who addressed the crowds outside the parliament, said: "Iran will avenge the blood of the victims with all our might.
"We keep the right of revenge in whatever form and whenever we see fit," he said. His remarks were carried in English by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
Aside from the funeral procession, foreign reporters who have converged on Tehran in the past two days have found little evidence of the "wave of rage" that Khamenei spoke about after the downing of the plane.
Life in the capital, half empty during Iraqi missile attacks earlier this year, appears back to normal. The sprawling bazaar and all shops are open.