Dozens of people are believed to have been killed in twin attacks on a restaurant and a police checkpoint in southern Iraq.

As details emerge, the governor of Iraq's southern Thi Qar province,Yahya al-Nassiri, has placed the death toll at 45. However, Reuters quoted the director of Nassiriya's health directorate, Jasim al-Khalidi, as saying that the city's hospital had received 50 bodies.

Nassiri said Thursday's attack, which also left 83 wounded, started with militants opening fire at the checkpoint and the restaurant on the main highway that links Baghdad with the southern provinces. That was followed by two suicide bombers, including one driving an explosives-laden car, he said.

The governor added that the majority of the dead are expected to be Iranian pilgrims who were inside the restaurant.

Police said the death toll is likely to increase as some of those injured were in critical condition, Reuters reported.

Isis said it was behind the attack, according to multiple sources. The group often claims responsibility for large-scale attacks targeting security forces and Shiite civilians in Iraq. Attacks in the southern part of the country are rare.

The Iraqi army is currently engaged in an offensive against Isis, which controls pockets of the country.

Shiite Muslim-dominated Thi Qar is located about 200 miles (320km) south-east of Baghdad.