BAGHDAD: A suicide truck bomb killed about 100 people, most of them Iranian Shia pilgrims, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla, 100km south of Baghdad on Thursday, police and medical sources said.
Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement.
Suicide bombing, shootouts kill around 55 in Iraq
The group is also fighting off a US-backed offensive on its stronghold Mosul, in northern Iraq.
The huge truck bomb blast ripped through a petrol station where buses packed with faithful returning from the Arbaeen commemoration in Karbala were parked, officials said.
Falah al-Radhi, head of the provincial security committee for Babylon, the province where the bombing happened, said several buses were targeted and put the death toll to around 70.
“A large truck exploded among them. It was a suicide attack,” he told AFP. “There are at least 70 dead, fewer than 10 are Iraqis, the rest are Iranians.”
Videos circulating on social media showed debris scattered over a large area along the main highway linking Baghdad to the main southern port city of Basra.
“There are completely charred corpses at the scene,” said Radhi, who added that at least 20 wounded were transferred to nearby hospitals.
The gas station has a restaurant in its premises that is popular with travellers.
Suicide attack kills 18 in Iraq oasis town
Five pilgrim buses were torched by the force of the blast from the explosives-laden truck, a police official said.
The Joint Operations Command in Baghdad issued a statement saying the truck was packed with 500 litres of ammonium nitrate, a chemical compound used in many explosive devices.
Islamic State has intensified attacks over the past month in areas out of its control in efforts to weaken the offensive launched on Oct. 17 to retake Mosul, the last major city under IS control in Iraq.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack without giving a casualties toll.
Tehran will continue to support Iraq’s ‘’relentless fight against terrorism,” ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency. AGENCIES
Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2016.
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