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Suicide truck bomber kills 47, injures 65 in checkpoint blast

At least 47 people were killed when a suicide bomber rammed a fuel truck laden with explosives into a security checkpoint south of Baghdad, officials said.

Dozens of others were injured in the blast, the latest episode in an increase in violence in the war-ravaged country.

No-one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State group. IS and other Sunni militants frequently use car bombs and suicide attacks to target public areas and government buildings in their bid to undermine confidence in the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.

Thirty-nine of the dead were 39 civilians, while the rest were members of the security forces.

The attacker struck shortly after noon when the checkpoint at one of the entrances to the city of Hillah was crowded with dozens of cars, a police officer said.

He added that up to 65 other people were wounded and nearly 50 cars were damaged. Hillah is about 60 miles (95km) south of the capital.

A medical official confirmed the casualty figures.

Iraq has seen a spike in violence in the past month with suicide attacks in and outside Baghdad, all claimed by the Islamic State group, killing more than 170 people. IS controls large swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria and has declared an Islamic "caliphate" on the territory it holds.

According to United Nations figures, at least 670 Iraqis were killed last month due to ongoing violence, of whom about two-thirds were civilians.

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