Two car bombs exploded near shops and restaurants in the Iraqi town of Tal Afar on Wednesday, killing at least three people and wounding 35 others, a police source said.

The blasts occurred in the mainly Shi'ite town of Tal Afar, which lies about 420 km (260 miles) north of Baghdad and just west of the volatile northern city of Mosul - the last urban stronghold of al Qaeda Sunni insurgency.

Militants blew up a small oil tanker then few minutes later they detonated a car bomb as more people gathered to help the wounded, the source in Tal Afar police said. Seven of those wounded were seriously injured, the source said.

Violence has subsided sharply in Iraq since the sectarian strife in 2006-07, but Sunni Islamist insurgents and Shi'ite militia still stage daily bombings and assassinations.

Nearly nine years after the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, Washington will end its military presence and pull out its remaining 5,500 troops before December 31.

(Reporting by Reporting by Jamal al-Badrani; writing by Rania El Gamal)