At least 50 die in twin attacks in Iraq

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More than 80 people were injured in the attacks, many of them seriously, and the death toll could rise, health officials said. "One attacker blew up his suicide vest inside the crowded restaurant while a group of other gunmen started to throw grenades and fire at diners", said police colonel Ali Abdul Hussain.

The area targeted is often used by Shia pilgrims and visitors from Iran on their way to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala further north.

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According to security officials, the attackers were disguised as members of the Hashed al-Shaabi Shiite paramilitary units that have joined the government forces in their fight against Daesh terrorists to the north of the capital Baghdad.

Iraqi and Kurdish security officials say the Sunni militants are likely to wage a guerrilla war in Iraq after their self-proclaimed caliphate in Mosul collapsed.

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Police sources said some police officers had died in the checkpoint attack, but the toll from that incident remained unclear.

Thursday's attacks come as Iraqi forces backed by tribal fighters closed in one of the last Daesh bastions in the country: Al Qaim area on the border with war-ravaged Syria. In a statement released by its propaganda arm Amaq, ISIS said several suicide bombers had staged the assault on a restaurant and a security checkpoint. It occurs in aftermath of a visit of iraqi prime minister, Haider Al-Abadi, in province of Dhi Qar, in particular, to Nasiriyya.

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