A suicide car bomber struck a checkpoint run by Iraqi troops and pro-government Shia militiamen south of Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 11 people, officials said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred on the outskirts of the Sunni town of Jurf al-Sakhar, 30 miles south of Baghdad. The bombing bore all the hallmarks of an attack by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
ISIL fighters lost control of the town on Sunday, when Iraqi soldiers and the Shia militia retook Jurf al-Sakhar from the Sunni extremist group. ISIL had seized the town in July as part of its blitz that captured large swaths of northern and western Iraq.
In Monday's attack the bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into the checkpoint, killing at least 11 people and wounding 23, a police officer said. Two medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. But Reuters put the number of killed at 27, citing police and army sources.
Jurf al-Sakhar is part of a predominantly Sunni strip of territory that runs just south of Baghdad and lies on a road usually taken by Shia pilgrims, when they head in large numbers to the holy Shia city of Karbala further to the south.
Pilgrims will be taking the route again next week in order to commemorate the death of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson, Imam Hussein — one of the most revered Shia martyrs.
The rapid offensive by ISIL, which captured not just territories in Iraq but also roughly a third of neighboring Syria, has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since U.S. troops left at the end of 2011.
Al Jazeera and wire services