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Eight Afghan Civilians Killed By Roadside Bomb

KHOGIANI, Afghanistan (Reuters) -- A roadside bomb killed eight civilians in eastern Afghanistan, officials have said, the latest attack in a surge of violence before a presidential election runoff next week.

The blast in Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan's east followed a similar bombing in the southern Taliban stronghold of Kandahar that killed four Afghans, including a child, on October 29, the Interior Ministry said.

The Taliban has vowed to disrupt the runoff vote on November 7 and has warned Afghans to boycott the poll, called after the first round in August was marred by widespread fraud.

A suicide attack on a UN guesthouse in the capital, Kabul, on October 28 killed five foreign UN staff.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack, saying it targeted the guesthouse because the United Nations is helping organize the runoff.

In Nangarhar, a Reuters witness said a car was being driven through a dry river bed when it was hit by the bomb.

Villagers said a tribal elder who was a passenger in the car appeared to be the target of attack. A woman was among those killed, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Afghan election officials have expressed concern that security forces will not have time to secure the thousands of polling stations before the runoff.

Violence across Afghanistan this year has reached its worst levels since the Taliban was ousted in 2001, with foreign military deaths reaching record levels and civilian deaths also up significantly.

Also in eastern Afghanistan, police and NATO-led forces killed about 26 insurgents in Ghazni Province on October 29, the Interior Ministry said.