Militants drove a truck laden with explosives into a crowded security checkpoint south of Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 47 people and wounding dozens more, Iraqi officials said. The attack has come amidst a renewed spike in violence that has seen 100 killed in Iraq in the last month alone.
The bombing took place just after noon outside the city of Hillah, 60 miles south of the capital, as dozens of cars and trucks waited to pass through the checkpoint. The death toll rose rapidly on Sunday morning with almost 50 killed and at least 70 wounded.
Islamic State (Isis) took responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on the pro-IS Amaq news agency website, according to Reuters.
"A martyr's operation with a truck bomb hit the Babylon Ruins checkpoint at the entrance of the city of Hillah, killing and wounding dozens," the statement said.
Pictures on social media showed widespread destruction with debris and burned-out cars scattered across the highway. Hillah is the capital of Babylon Province, sits on the banks of the Euphrates and is close to the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon.
Many of the dead are believed to be civilians waiting to pass through the checkpoint as well as police and security officials that were manning the facility.
In the past month, Iraq has seen a surge in suicide attacks killing more than 100 people but the city of Hillah has been relatively free of attacks since the Iraqi army pushed Isis out of its strongholds in southern Iraq in 2014. The last attack in Hillah came in March 2014, when 50 people were killed and 150 injured in a suicide attack.
Isis has often targeted civilians and security personnel in southern Baghdad and the Shi'ite towns and villages nearby the capital in its war against the Iraqi government of Haider al-Abadi. Isis consider the Shi'ite heretics and oppose Baghdad's renewed ties to Iran.