Baghdad blast kills at least five

 

A powerful bomb has torn apart an upscale Baghdad restaurant crowded with New Year revellers, killing at least five people and leaving many still trapped in the rubble, Iraqi police say.

Police initially said explosives were probably carried into the Nabil restaurant in the Arasat district of Baghdad by a suicide bomber, but later said they suspected a car bomb.

Much of the restaurant building as well as a nearby house were destroyed and the restaurant was in flames. Witnesses said dozens of people had been inside when the bomb went off, .

Officials in the emergency ward of the nearby Ibn al-Nafis hospital said more than 20 people had been wounded, including at least three foreigners who they believed were British or American.

Witnesses said the wounded foreigners were Western journalists who had been eating at the restaurant.

US helicopters circled overhead and a stream of ambulances raced to the scene. U.S. troops and Iraqi rescuers were clawing through the rubble looking for survivors.

Gutted cars were scattered across the road.

The restaurant, in one of Baghdad's most upmarket districts, is frequented by wealthy Iraqis and is popular with foreigners. A New Year party was under way when the bomb struck, and the restaurant guests were all smartly dressed, witnesses said.