BAGHDAD: A car bomb exploded south of the Iraqi capital Thursday evening killing around 100 people, mostly Shia pilgrims returning from the holy city of Karbala.
According to security officials, a truck loaded with explosives went off 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 most of the victims were Iranian nationals.
Around 20 million pilgrims from Iraq and other parts of the world thronged Karbala this year to mark Arba'een, the end of commemorative ceremonies, held annually to remember the sacrifices of Imam Hussain. Imam Hussain, the third Shia Imam, was slain along with his family and companions on the orders of Ummayad Caliph Yezid as the beloved grandson of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) refused to give oath of allegiance to the tyrant ruler.
Thursday attack took place at a time when buses packed with Shia pilgrims were parked at the fuel station.
“At least seven buses with pilgrims were inside the petrol station at the time,” an unnamed police lieutenant colonel told AFP.
The report 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.”
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 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 the occupied 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.