Three Iranians among seven dead in twin attacks in south Iraq

Baghdad-At least 50 pilgrims were killed and over 80 more injured in a pair of gun and auto bomb attacks in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, reports citing healthofficials reported.

The head of Nassiriya's health directorate, Jassim al-Khalidi, said the city's hospital had received 50 bodies and the death toll could rise because some of the wounded were in critical condition.

Iraqi Interior Ministry Spokesman Saad Maan also said a vehicle bomb in the same area targeted a security checkpoint shortly afterwards.

The attack started with militants opening fire at the checkpoint and the restaurant on the main road that links the capital Baghdad with Iraq's southern provinces. The road targeted by jihadists is in southern Iraqi province Dhi Qar, heavily populated by Shi'ite Muslims. The attacks occurred on a highway regularly used by pilgrims and visitors from neighbouring Iran, en route to holy cities of shia of Najaf and Karbala, to north.

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The Sunni extremist group regularly stages attacks in Iraq, where it has lost swathes of territory to US-backed pro-government forces. Three police officers are among the dead.

Thursday's attacks come as Iraqi forces backed by tribal fighters closed in one of the last Daesh bastions in the country: Al Qaim area on the border with war-ravaged Syria.

Islamic State claimed responsibility in a statement on its Amaq news agency.

  • Megan Austin