Mosul, Iraq: A bomb in a parked car exploded outside a restaurant and a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest then struck a crowd of bystanders, killing 14 people in the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar on Wednesday, police said.

The attack was the latest violence in the run up to a meeting of Arab leaders intended as the debut for Iraq on the regional stage after the withdrawal of US forces in December.

Nine years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussain, Iraq is determined to show it can maintain sufficient security to play host to its neighbours for its first Arab summit at the end of this month.

A local official in Tal Afar said: "A parked car bomb exploded near a restaurant in central Tal Afar. Minutes later, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the crowd."

Police said the final toll was 14 people killed and 23 wounded.

Volatile province

Tal Afar is near the border with Syria, about 420km north of Baghdad and just west of the volatile northern city of Mosul. The town has a large Shiite population in a volatile province that is also home to many Sunni Arabs as well as Christians, Kurds and Turkmen.

Violence in Iraq has declined since the height of sectarian conflict in 2006-2007, but bombings and shootings still take place on a daily basis. US troops withdrew in December but some militant groups, particularly Sunni insurgents allied to Al Qaida, have said they will not lay down their arms.