Attacks in Iraq have killed 17 people, including 14 who died in twin bombings in the northern town of Tal Afar, just weeks before the country is due to host a landmark Arab summit.
The violence on Wednesday, which also left 24 people wounded, comes two days after suspected al-Qaeda gunmen killed 27 policemen in a pre-dawn attack in western Iraq.
In Baghdad, the capital, two separate attacks in which fighters placed bombs inside vehicles killed three people and wounded nine, an interior ministry official said.
The city's security command centre released a statement calling on residents to "check their vehicles before driving and, after driving, do not leave your car in an unguarded public space".
Most of the casualties were Tal Afar, a majority Shia Turkmen town 380km north of Baghdad.
"At 1:00 pm (1000 GMT), a car bomb exploded in west Tal Afar, and five minutes later, a suicide bomber blew himself up among the people who rushed to the scene," said town mayor Abid al-Al Abbas.
"In total, 14 people were killed and 15 wounded."
In March 2006, then US president George W Bush hailed Tal Afar as a model town due to the low levels of violence at the time.
Violence in Iraq has declined in recent years after peaking in 2006 and 2007. According to official figures, 150 people were killed in February.
The latest attacks come ahead of a March 29 summit of the Arab League in Baghdad, the first non-emergency meeting of the 22-nation body to be held in the city in more than 30 years.
President Jalal Talabani said on Monday that preparations for the summit were complete. "Baghdad is now ready to receive the Arab leaders," he said.
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|F. William Engdahl|