A car bomb has reportedly exploded south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killing more than 80 people, among them Shia pilgrims.
According to security sources, a truck loaded with explosives went off on Thursday at a gas station in the Shomali village in the suburbs of the city of al-Hilla, located 120 kilometers (75 miles) southeast of the capital Baghdad and around 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Karbala.
Reports say there have been several Iranian nationals among the victims.
The incident occurred at a time when buses packed with Shia pilgrims were parked at the gas station. The people were returning from Arba’een mourning rituals in the holy city of Karbala.
“At least seven buses with pilgrims were inside the petrol station at the time,” an unnamed police lieutenant colonel told AFP.
AFP also quoted an unnamed police intelligence source as saying that “those buses were loaded with Iranians, Bahrainis and Iraqis. Ambulances and civil defense are on their way to the site.”
The Takfiri Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the deadly bombing.
In recent weeks, Daesh has resorted to similar acts of violence in areas outside its control in a desperate attempt to undermine a large Iraqi battle aimed at liberating the northern city of Mosul, the terror group’s last remaining foorhold in the country.
Gruesome violence has plagued the northern and western parts of Iraq ever since Daesh terrorists mounted an offensive there more than two years ago, and took control of portions of Iraqi territory.
Iraqi army soldiers and allied fighters are trying to win back militant-held regions in joint operations.
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) says a total of 1,792 Iraqis, among them 1,120, lost their lives in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in October.