10 Mar 2014

Bomber ploughs bus into checkpoint

9:38 am on 10 March 2014

A suspected suicide bomber has killed at least 32 people by driving a minibus packed with explosives at a security checkpoint in the Iraqi city of Hilla.

Burnt-out vehicles at the Hilla checkpoint.

Burnt-out vehicles at the Hilla checkpoint. Photo: AFP

The BBC reports that the deadly blast came at the northern entrance to the Shia-dominated city, which is 95 kilometres south of Baghdad, during the morning rush-hour.

The bombing set dozens of cars alight as they were waiting to be searched at the checkpoint, killing people inside their vehicles and wounding more than 150. Officials believe al-Qaeda was behind the bombing

Iraqi police say the minibus may have been packed with liquid fuel, possibly gasoline.

The attacks come amid a period of renewed violence in recent months, driven principally by widespread discontent among the country's Sunni minority and by the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

The death toll has climbed to its highest level since the worst of Iraq's sectarian bloodletting in 2006-08.

The United Nations says 8868 people were killed in 2013 and more than 1400 in January and February of this year alone.

Prime minister Nouri Maliki has accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of seeking to destabilise his country by supporting insurgent groups and providing them with financial support.