Isis claims responsibility for truck bomb that killed at least 47 people at Iraqi police checkpoint south of Baghdad

'It's the largest bombing in the province to date' said Falah al-Radhi, head of the provincial security committee

The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack at a police checkpoint in Iraq, killing at least 47 people and wounding dozens more.

Responsibility was claimed in a posting on the website of the Amaq news agency, which supports the terrorist organisation. "A martyr's operation with a truck bomb hit the Babylon Ruins checkpoint at the entrance of the city of Hilla, killing and wounding dozens," a statement on the website said.

The attacker struck shortly after noon when the checkpoint at one of the entrances to the city of Hilla was crowded with dozens of cars, a police officer said. Around 39 of the fatalities are believed to be civilians. 

In a statement posted on social media, Isis named the bomber who detonated his explosives-laden truck at a checkpoint as Abu Islam al-Ansari.

"The Rafidha [a derogatory term for Shiites] must understand that the battle has just begun and that the worst is yet to come," the statement said.

"It's the largest bombing in the province to date," Falah al-Radhi, the head of the provincial security committee, told Reuters. "The checkpoint, the nearby police station were destroyed as well as some houses and dozens of cars."

A provincial hospital official confirmed the number of casualties. Many had suffered burn injuries.

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

Such attacks "force the government and the militias to look back and reallocate resources and reassess," said Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, referring to the mainly Shiite militias fighting alongside government forces.

Additional reporting by wires

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