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Iraq: Several Deaths In Baghdad Explosion

Baghdad, 31 December 2003 (RFE/RL) -- A large explosion occurred at a restaurant in central Baghdad today, killing several people. The city police chief, Lieutenant General Ahmad Kadhem, told the Associated Press that five people were killed in the blast at a restaurant holding a New Year's Eve party. Hospital officials say at least 20 people were injured.

Iraqi police say they suspect the blast was caused by a car bomb.

Reports of the blast come as U.S.-led forces in Iraq are on high alert due to the possibility of attacks to mark the new year.

Earlier today in central Baghdad, an Iraqi child was killed and five U.S. soldiers were wounded when a parked car exploded.

And in the northern city of Kirkuk, at least two people were shot dead and some 14 others were wounded by Kurdish policemen during a demonstration by Arabs and Turkmen demanding the city remain under a central government.