Suicide truck bomb kills about 100 in Iraq, mostly Iranian pilgrims

A man reacts at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016.
A man reacts at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
Iraqi security forces gather at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016.
Iraqi security forces gather at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
Iraqi men react at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016.
Iraqi men react at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
Iraqi security forces inspect the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016.
Iraqi security forces inspect the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
A man reacts at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016.
A man reacts at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
Destroyed vehicles are seen at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016
Destroyed vehicles are seen at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016PHOTO: REUTERS
A man reacts at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016.
A man reacts at the site of a suicide truck bomb attack, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla south of Baghdad, Iraq, Nov 24, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

HILLA, Iraq (REUTERS) - A suicide truck bomb killed about 100 people, most of them Iranian Shi’ite pilgrims, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla 100km south of Baghdad on Thursday (Nov 24), police and medical sources said.

AFP said the death toll was over 70, quoting Falah al-Radhi, head of the provincial security committee for Babylon, the province where the bombing happened.

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the ultra hard-line Sunni militant group that considers all Shi’ites to be apostates, claimed responsibility the attack in an online statement.

The group also is fighting off a US-backed offensive on its stronghold Mosul, in northern Iraq, in which Iranian-trained Shi’ite militias are taking part.

The pilgrims were en route back to Iran from the Iraqi Shi’ite holy city of Kerbala, where they had commemorated Arbaeen, the 40th day of mourning for the killing of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, in the seventh century AD, the medical sources said.

The gas station has a restaurant on its premises that is popular with travellers.

Five pilgrim buses were set afire by the blast from the explosives-laden truck, a police official said.

In recent months ISIS has intensified attacks in areas out of its control in efforts to weaken the offensive launched on Oct 17 to retake Mosul, the last major Iraqi city under Islamic State control.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack without giving a casualty toll.

AFP said the death toll was over 70, quoting Falah al-Radhi, head of the provincial security committee for Babylon, the province where the bombing happened.

Teheran will continue to support Iraq’s “relentless fight against terrorism,” ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

US officials condemned the attack.

“The United States remains steadfast in its partnership with the Iraqi people and government and this attack only serves to strengthen our resolve in defeating ISIL,” National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.

The US State Department is in close contact with Iraqi authorities, department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.