51 people killed in Iraq bombing

Baghdad, March 7 (IANS) At least 51 people were killed and 70 injured in a suicide truck bomb attack on a security checkpoint in Iraq’s central Babil province, a security source has said.

“Casualties from Sunday’s suicide truck bomb attack in Hilla security checkpoint rose to 51 deaths and 70 injuries,” Xinhua quoted the source as saying.

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack.

“A martyr’s operation with a truck bomb hit the Babylon Ruins checkpoint at the entrance of the city of Hilla, killing and injuring dozens,” said a statement on the website of Amaq news agency, which supports the IS.

A suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden truck into the crowded al-Athar security checkpoint in Hilla, some 100 km south of Baghdad, the source said.

The massive blast destroyed the checkpoint buildings and left dozens of vehicles badly damaged, while many civilian cars were set ablaze, the source said.

Most of the victims were civilians who were inside their cars while in a queue at the crowded checkpoint.

A provincial hospital official confirmed the number of casualties, saying 23 were members of the police and other security forces that were manning the checkpoint.

The suicide attack is the second deadliest this year after the February 28 attack that killed 78 people in Sadr city, a Shia district of Baghdad.

It appeared to be part of a campaign by the IS to stage attacks deep behind front lines in order to wreak havoc and force the government to overextend its forces.

Iraq has seen a spike in violence in the past month, with suicide attacks claimed by the IS killing more than 170 people.

The IS has frequently targeted areas where large crowds gather, including checkpoints, markets, cafes and mosques across Iraq.

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