A man wearing a belt packed with explosives killed at least 23 Iraqi soldiers and wounded 29 others on Wednesday when he blew himself up inside a restaurant on an Iraqi army base north of Baghdad (search), army officials said.

The lunchtime explosion took place in Khalis (search), about 12 miles northwest of Baqouba, Iraqi army Col. Saleh al-Obeidi said. Baqouba is 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Al-Obeidi said the man was wearing an army uniform and waited until soldiers had gathered for lunch before blowing himself up. The soldiers belonged to the Al-Salam battalion of the 2nd brigade of the Iraqi army in Diyala (search) province.

The injured were being evacuated to a nearby hospital, Iraqi army Maj. Abbas Timimi said.