Imam Musa Kadhim
Imam Musa KadhimReuters

A car bomb targeting Shiite pilgrims near Baghdad killed nearly 20 people on Saturday, in the latest terror attack to hit Iraq. The Islamic State group, which has carried out similar attacks on Shia Muslims in Iraq in recent years, claimed responsibility for Saturday's bomb blast.

The pilgrims were attacked when they were visiting Baghdad's Imam Kadhim shrine to mark the death anniversary of a religious leader, according to reports. Kadhim is among the 12 imams revered in Shiite Islam, who died in the eight century.

While Reuters reported that an ISIS suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with three tonnes of explosives though the crowd, AFP said the bomb had been planted on a route taken by the Shiite pilgrims. Xinhua reported that at least 24 people had been killed in Saturday's blast.

Iraq has witnessed an increased spate of sectarian violence and terror attacks, with more than 2,600 deaths reported due to violence in the first three months of this year alone, according to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. More than half of the casualties were of civilians, with the UN agency citing the figure at 1,475.

ISIS has claimed several of the attacks against Shias, whom the group considers to be heretics.

The Shiite pilgrimage in Iraq was targeted by terrorists last year as well, leaving several people dead. Thousands of Shia Muslims throng the Imam Kadhim shrine on the occasion each year.