blast near australian embassy * baghdad

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    Blast near Australian embassy
    From correspondents in Baghdad
    October 18, 2004

    A CAR bomb exploded near the Australian embassy in Baghdad this morning (AEST), killing up to seven people and injuring at least 20 more.

    Alert ... Australian troops on patrol outside the embassy / File

    It is not yet known if any Australians were injured or killed in the blast.

    The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said it was in contact with its embassy in Iraq and was attempting to get details of the extent of the explosion and the damage caused.

    "We're aware of the reports, we're in contact with the embassy to get the latest on the location and extent of the blast and whether there are any Australians involved," a DFAT spokesman said.

    Reuters reported US military sources saying the attack had targeted police at a cafe near the embassy.

    AFP reported the Iraqi interior ministry saying at least six people were killed and 27 wounded.

    Witnesses earlier reported that a loud explosion rocked the cafe frequented by Iraqi police.

    A Reuters cameraman said there were many casualties at the scene, which was cordoned off by police as ambulances rushed in.

    Police appeared to be having a late evening meal during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

    Insurgents frequently target Iraqi police and National Guards who they accuse of working with US-led forces in the country.

    Two mortars were fired at a hotel used by journalists and foreign contractors in the same area of Baghdad earlier today.



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