Press Shia Agency – Iraq’s top cleric Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani has condemned a recent deadly attack targeting pilgrims near Hillah, saying the perpetrators of the carnage will pay for their crimes on the battleground.

Press Shia Agency – Hujjat al-Islam Sayyid Ahmad al-Safi, the religious leader’s representative, cited him as making the remarks on Friday, a day after the attack.


The terrorist assault involved a truck bomb that exploded at a gas station in the Shomali village in the suburbs of al-Hillah, killing at least 73 people, including many Iranians.


The incident occurred as pilgrims were returning from Karbala, where they marked Arba’in, the 40th day since the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, a grandson of Prophet Muhammad.


Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack. The terrorist group has been wreaking havoc on Iraq, with Iraqi government troops and volunteer forces currently fighting Takfiri militants in their last major bastion in Mosul.


Ayatollah al-Sistani said the terrorists, who had failed to target the pilgrims during the Arba’in rituals in Karbala, sought to attack them at a gas station outside the holy city.


“This act of terror will increase the number of those loving Imam Husayn, and those who committed it will meet their comeuppance on battlegrounds,” he said.


Iraqi security forces had established tight security on the main paths to Karbala and in the city itself during the rituals.


Hujjat al-Islam al-Safi expressed his appreciation of the Iraqi people’s efforts to help create the safest circumstances possible around the rituals.


Iran’s counselor in Karbala, Masoud Hoseyni, has said that 28 Iranian identification cards had been found at the site of the explosion. He announced that 71 bags of human remains were being transferred to Iran for DNA testing in order to identify the victims.


Also on Friday, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani condemned the attack as “desperate” and said Iran was determined to continue its “all-out fight” against terrorism.