A car bomb has reportedly exploded south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, killing at least 85 civilians, 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.
At least 40 Iranian pilgrims were among the victims of the terror assault, according to PressTV’s correspondent.
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.
The Takfiri Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the deadly bombing.
‘Relief operation is underway,’ Hamid Goudarzi Spokesman for the Arbaeen Central Headquarters told IRNA in an interview Thursday evening.
‘The exact number of the Iranian pilgrims martyred in the terrorist attack not yet clear,’ Goudarzi said.
‘The vigilance of the Iraqi and Iranian security forces repeatedly foiled attempts by the Daesh terrorist group to mount an attack on pilgrims during the Arbaeen rituals,’ he said.
‘Now they have launched a terrorist attack at a neighborhood far from the holy shrines,’ he added.
According to the Iranian official, most of the Iranian victims are among those who had travelled to Iraq individually to mourn for the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (AS) on the 40th day of his martyrdom.
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.”
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 bastion in the country.