At least 50 people have been killed and dozens more wounded in twin gun and car bombing attacks near the city of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq, local officials said.
The attacks in the southern province of Thi Qar on Thursday started with unidentified gunmen opening fire inside a restaurant on the main highway that links the capital Baghdad with the southern provinces.
Shortly afterwards, an explosives-laden car targeted a security checkpoint in the same area.
“The toll has now reached 50 dead and 87 wounded,” Abdel Hussein al-Jabri, deputy health chief for the mainly-Shia province of Thi Qar of which Nasiriyah is the capital, told AFP news agency.
He warned that the death toll could rise as several of the wounded were in critical condition.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) claimed responsibility for the suicide attacks, according to the group’s Amaq news agency.
Yahya al-Nassiri, provincial governor, told AP news agency that majority of the dead are expected to be Iranian visitors who were inside the restaurant.
Thi Qar is located about 320 kilometers southeast of Baghdad.
The latest attacks follow a series of setbacks that ISIL has faced at the hands of US-backed Iraqi forces.
In July, Iraq retook control of Mosul, a key ISIL stronghold on the north, after a campaign of nearly nine months.
ISIL still controls the town of Hawija in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk and western areas in the country’s largest province of Anbar.
Source: News agencies