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BAGHDAD – At least 100 Shiite pilgrims were killed in a suicide truck bomb blast at a petrol station in the city of Hilla 100 km (62 miles) south of Baghdad on Thursday, police and medical sources said.

The attack, which is one of the deadliest ones of recent times, was claimed by Islamic State (ISIS), in an online statement.

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, November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
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, November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

The pilgrims were en route back to Iran from the Iraqi Shi’ite holy city of Kerbala, where they had commemorated Arbaeen, the posthumous 40th day of mourning for the killing of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), in the 7th century AD, the medical sources said.

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, November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani
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, November 24, 2016. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

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 the offensive launched on Oct. 17 to retake Mosul, the last major city under IS control in Iraq.