A suicide bomber detonated a truck full of explosives south of Baghdad, killing at least 45 people, including 38 civilians and 7 police officers, NPR’s Alison Meuse reports.
The explosion struck a crowded security checkpoint about 60 miles from Iraq’s capital, The Associated Press reports.
The head of the provincial security committee told Reuters that the explosion destroyed a police station, several houses and dozens of cars.
“No one immediately claimed responsibility but the attack bears the hallmarks of the Islamic State group,” the AP says, noting that a string of deadly explosions has killed more than 100 people in Iraq in the last month.
In a separate report, the AP writes that the Islamic State has recently intensified its attacks near Baghdad as Iraq’s military struggles to prepare for a long-planned assault on Mosul, ISIS’ largest stronghold in Iraq:
“As the U.S. and its allies furiously work to train thousands more troops for the daunting task of retaking Iraq’s second largest city, Islamic State group fighters are launching a diversion campaign of bloody suicide attacks in Baghdad and elsewhere. Their aim is to force Iraq’s already overburdened security forces to spread even thinner to protect the capital and other cities rather than prepare the Mosul operation.
“Iraq’s answer to that has been to plan to build a wall around the capital.”