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Suicide truck bomb kills more than 80 in Iraq

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement.

People inspect the wreckage of a vehicle following a suicide bombing that targeted Shiite pilgrims returning from the Arbaeen commemoration in Karbala, on November 24, 2016. Picture: AFP

KOKJALI/BAGHDAD - A suicide truck bomb killed more than 80 people, most of them Iranian Shi'ite pilgrims, at a petrol station in the city of Hilla, 100km south of Baghdad on Thursday, police and medical sources said.

Islamic State, the ultra hardline Sunni militant group that considers all Shi'ites to be apostates, claimed responsibility for the attack in an online statement.

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 Mohammad, in the 7th century AD, the medical sources said.

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

Five pilgrim buses were torched by the force of the blast from the explosives-laden truck, a police official said.

Islamic State has intensified attacks over the past month in areas out of its control in efforts to weaken a US-backed military offensive launched on 17 October to retake Mosul, the last major city under IS control in Iraq.

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