World Bulletin/News Desk
A car bomb exploded near a hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Hilla late on Wednesday, killing at least 14 people, police and medical sources said.
The blast occurred around 20 metres from the main gate of Hilla General Hospital, outside a busy coffee shop where patients' relatives often sit to rest and buy food and drinks in the predominantly Shi'ite Muslim city.
"I was on my way to buy some juice for my sick uncle who was in the hospital when I saw a big fireball," said eyewitness Ahmed Shirba.
"I saw many dead bodies on the ground: some were charred, others were still on fire. I saw severed heads and limbs. The bodies of two policemen who had been guarding the area were on the ground, both with their legs ripped off."
A further 58 people were wounded in the blast, and houses nearby were severely damaged, the sources said.
A senior security official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity blamed the attack on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is also active across the border in Syria.
The offical suspected the attack was in retaliation for recent security operations and airstrikes launched by the army against ISIL's strongholds in northern Hilla and other areas like Jurf al-Sakhar and Iskandariya.
Nearly 800 people were killed in violence across Iraq in May, according to the United Nations, making it the deadliest month so far this year.
That figure excludes casualties in the western province of Anbar, where the Iraqi army has been fighting tribal and insurgent groups since they overran two cities at the start of the year.
Last Mod: 05 Haziran 2014, 10:32