Death toll in Iraq bombing claimed by Islamic State rises

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — The death toll from a car bombing south of Baghdad claimed by the Islamic State group rose to 73 on Friday, including about 40 Iranian pilgrims, as Iraqi forces fought house to house to dislodge the extremist group from the northern city of Mosul in a 5-week-old campaign slowed down by stiff IS resistance and fears of massive civilian casualties.

Iraqi police and hospital officials said 65 other people were wounded in the Thursday night attack at a gas station on a major highway near the city of Hilla, about 60 miles south of the Iraqi capital.

It was the deadliest IS attack in Iraq since July, when a car bomb killed about 300 in a commercial district in Baghdad.

IS claimed the attack in a brief statement on its Aamaq media arm, saying it was a suicide truck bomb.

Earlier, Iraqi officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, had put the death toll at 56.

In Mosul, where an Iraqi government campaign to retake the city began last month, fighting continued in the eastern sector on Friday, with Iraqi special forces seizing another neighborhood, Masaref, and advancing in the densely populated Zohour district, according to Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil.

The offensive to capture Zohour began earlier this week, but troops are facing spirited IS resistance, he added.