ISIS plays havoc in Iraq
HILLA: (APP) A suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group killed at least 70 people, mainly Shiite pilgrims, south of Baghdad Thursday, in the latest jihadist attack as Iraqi forces battle to retake Mosul.
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.
Most of the victims were Iranians, the largest contingent of foreigners in the pilgrimage, which is one of the world's largest religious events and culminated on Monday.
The attack took place near a village called Shomali, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) southeast of Baghdad.
IS, which is fighting to defend its Mosul stronghold in northern Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack.
In a statement quoted by the SITE Intelligence Group, IS said a bomber "blew up his vehicle amidst their assembly, inflicting among them more than 200 killed and wounded, including Iranians."
Falah al-Radhi, head of the provincial security committee for Babylon, the province where the bombing happened, said it had targeted several buses.
"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 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.