Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Gunmen opened fire at a restaurant in Iraq's Dhi War province and a car bomb exploded outside Thursday, killing dozens of people, Iraq's Interior Ministry said.
Conflicting announcements from official and security sources placed the death toll between 50 and 80, with many injuries.
"Terrorists assaulted citizens inside of a restaurant on the highway of Dhi Qar province and fled, followed by the bombing of a car bomb near Fadak control [a security checkpoint]," ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan said in a statement.
The assailants fired shots into the restaurant that was busy with Iranian visitors before a car loaded with explosives detonated outside.
The restaurant is located on the road between Dhi Qar and Basra in southern Iraq. It is a popular route used for Shiite pilgrims.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
Dhi Qar is relatively peaceful, Al-Iraqiya reported Thursday, but has recently seen a rise in bombings targeting civilians and security forces.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq said nearly 300 Iraqi civilians died in violence and armed conflict in August, with 45 of those deaths occurring in the province that includes Baghdad.