NEW YORK (AP) _ Police searched today for assailants who walked into a Wendy's restaurant just before closing time and fatally shot five people during an apparent robbery. Two other people were wounded.

The seven victims, all believed to be employees, appeared to have been tied up and shot in the basement of the restaurant in the Flushing section of Queens, said Lt. Cory Cuneo, a police spokesman.

Police said at least two gunmen entered the restaurant just before its scheduled closing time of 11 p.m. Wednesday. One of the victims called police about two hours later.

One of the survivors was in serious condition and the other was in stable condition, said Paul Pickard, a spokesman for New York Hospital Medical Center. Four victims died at the scene; the fifth died soon after arriving at the hospital.

Shahzad Ahmad, a cab driver who often works in the neighborhood, said the block is usually crowded with people and police at 11 p.m.

``That's just unbelievable,'' he said early today. An employee at a 24-hour newsstand directly across the street from the restaurant said he didn't see or hear anything out of the ordinary.

The murder rate in New York City has risen 12.4 percent in the first three months of this year after plunging recently to levels not seen since the 1960s. There were 667 murders last year, a dramatic decline since the city's all-time high of 2,290 in 1990.

Wendy's is based in Dublin, Ohio. The fast-food chain has approximately 5,500 stores worldwide, 4,600 of them in the United States. It is the No. 3 fast-food chain after McDonald's and Burger King.

The nation's deadliest shooting happened at a fast-food restaurant: On July 18, 1984, a man walked into a McDonald's in San Ysidro, Calif., and began shooting, killing 21 people before he was shot by police.