Suicide bomb kill Shia pilgrims in Iraq

The jihadist group Islamic State said it carried out the attack.

Nearly 80 people, many of them Shia pilgrims, have been killed in a truck bomb attack at a road stop in Iraq.

A security official said the blast struck at a petrol station and restaurant near Hilla, some 100km (60 miles) south of Baghdad.

The road stop was full of people returning from commemorating Arbaeen in the holy city of Karbala. Many of the dead were reportedly Iranians.

It claimed that as many as 200 people had been killed and wounded in the blast, in a statement delivered by its news agency Amaq.

Targeting Shia
Buses carrying Iranian Shia pilgrims appear to have been targeted in the attack, which struck near the village of Shomali.

Some reports say the suicide vehicle was parked and the force of the blast completely destroyed the petrol station and scorched many cars.

Provincial security Chief, Falah al-Radi said, “that Iranians were among nearly 80 people who had been killed and more than 20 wounded in the attack. The toll was expected to rise.”

Millions of Shia pilgrims travelled to Karbala to commemorate Arbaeen, the end of the 40-day mourning period for the third Shia Imam, Hussein. This year it took place on Sunday.

Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, was killed in battle at Karbala in the 7th Century on a day that is known as Ashura. His martyrdom is considered a defining event in the Sunni-Shia schism.

The Sunni extremists of IS consider Shia to be apostates worthy of punishment by death for their veneration of the Prophet’s family and other beliefs and practices.

An official said IS militants attempted to infiltrate Karbala last week after six suicide bombers entered a town to the west, Ain Tamr.

Five of the six bombers were shot dead but the sixth blew himself up, killing eight civilians.

BBC/Sammie