A truck bomb detonated Thursday in the Iraqi city of Hilla and killed at least 57 civilians, including many Iranians, according to NPR's Alison Meuse. She said the attack targeted Shiite Muslims returning from an annual religious pilgrimage.
Alison told NPR's Newscast unit:
The truck bomb exploded next to a rest stop frequented by Iranian travelers. An official with Iraq's interior ministry says the explosives were concealed by the truck's cargo of vegetables. It was detonated as a group of Shiite pilgrims left a nearby restaurant. In addition to the dead, dozens of civilians were wounded and cars parked nearby were incinerated.
The attack, which happened about 70 miles south of Baghdad, targeted Shiite Muslims returning from Karbala for the religious pilgrimage of Arbaeen. Alison said the Sunni extremist group ISIS, sometimes also known as ISIL, considers Shiites heretics and typically claims such attacks.
In a statement Thursday, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the violence "was clearly intended to stoke sectarian tensions. The United States remains steadfast in its partnership with the Iraqi people and government, and this attack only serves to strengthen our resolve in defeating ISIL."