On Thursday, at least 75 people were killed in a truck bomb blast, which targeted Shia pilgrims in town al-Shamuli, near Hilla, in Babylon Province, 60 kilometers south of Baghdad. The death toll included 40 Iranian pilgrims.
The officials said on Friday, 65 people were wounded in the attack. The Thursday night bombing completely destroyed the gas station, several nearby stores and set several cars on fire. The station is located on a major highway.
The blast knocked out power at the station, forcing relatives looking for the remains of their loved ones to use the glare of their mobile phones to guide them.
Body parts that remained unclaimed were gathered in a blue bag and placed on the sidewalk outside the station. Large sections of the station were covered in blood.
Th explosion was reportedly due to a bomb laden truck targeting visitors who were on their way to Iran after the commemoration of the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Imam Hussein, in a ceremony in the city of Karbala.
The Shiite observance marks the 40th day after the death anniversary of a much revered, 7th century imam. It routinely attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, including many Iranians who travel overland into Iraq for the occasion.
Five buses with mostly Iranian pilgrims on-board caught fire in the explosion at a petrol station and restaurant. The bus left the buses and some dozen cars charred.
The Islamic State claimed their responsibility for the attack in a brief statement carried by its Aamaq news agency, saying it was a suicide truck bomb.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Following the attack, the Iranian Foreign Ministry through its spokesperson Bahram Qasemi condemned the attack without revealing the number of Iranian citizen killed in the attack and stated that Tehran would support Iraq in its fight against terrorism.
Thursday’s attack came a day after several small-scale bombings in and around Baghdad killed 31 people and injured more than 100, a particularly bloody day even by the standards of the Iraqi capital, which has for more than a decade endured near-daily violence blamed on IS or its forerunner, al-Qaida in Iraq.