Daesh Targets Karbala Pilgrims, 50 Killed

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Baghdad—At least 50 pilgrims were killed and over 80 more injured in a pair of gun and car bomb attacks in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, reports citing healthofficials reported.

The dead included mostly pilgrims headed to the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf in Southern Iraq, according to media reports.

In the first attack, a group of three or four gunmen entered a restaurant off the Dhi Qar highway and began shooting at random, hitting at least fifty people, including women and children, several media reported.

Shortly afterward two suicide bombers, including one driving a car rigged with explosives, blew themselves and the car up at a security checkpoint nearby, Iraqi officials said.

Daesh or ISIS claimed responsibility for twin attacks. In a statement released by its propaganda arm Amaq, ISIS said several suicide bombers had staged the assault on a restaurant and a security checkpoint.

The survivors are being treated at the al-Batha and Nasiriyah hospitals, but due to the nature of some of the injuries the death toll is expected to rise, the director of the city’s Health Directorate, Jasim al-Khalidi, said.

Jassem al-Khalidi, a senior health official, told the TV channel that more than 87 people had sustained injuries in the attacks.

The majority of casualties are expected to be Shia pilgrims, many from neighbouring Iran, provincial governor Yahya al-Nassiri told AP, who were inside the restaurant at the time of the first attack. He warned that the death toll could rise as many of the wounded were in serious condition.

The first attack struck close to a restaurant while shortly afterwards a car bomb targeted a security checkpoint in the same area, officials said.

Security sources said the attackers were disguised as members of the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary units which have fought alongside the army and police against the terror groups.

The area targeted is used by pilgrims and visitors from neighbouring Iran headed for the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala further north, although Dhiqar has previously been spared the worst of the violence.

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