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Suicide car bomb kills 8 in Afghan south

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A suicide car bomber killed eight Afghan civilians on Thursday when he detonated his explosives outside a guest house frequented by foreigners in southern Kandahar city, a police official said.

"Police spotted the suicide bomber and fired at him but he managed to detonate his explosives. As a result eight people were martyred," senior police officer Fazl Ahmad Sherzai told reporters in Kandahar.

Two police, who were guarding the Continental, a guest house often visited by foreign journalists in the heart of Kandahar city, were also wounded in the blast, Sherzai said. Sherzai did not say who he thought was the target of the attack.

Violence in Afghanistan has reached its highest levels since the hardline Taliban were removed from power by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.

The Taliban often carry out suicide and roadside bomb attacks targeting Afghan and foreign security forces in an attempt to overthrow the government and drive international troops from the country. But civilians usually bear the brunt of the attacks.

The Taliban could not be immediately reached for comment.

Militants have been making startling gains in the area around Afghanistan's second largest city, which is the birthplace of both the Taliban movement and President Hamid Karzai.

To turn back the tide, the area is likely to receive the largest share of the 30,000 new troops President Barack Obama has announced this month he is sending after a request from his commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.

There are around 2,800 Canadian troops based in Kandahar who are due to leave in 2011. Under plans in place before McChrystal took command, Washington sent a new brigade of ground troops to Kandahar this year.

There are currently around 110,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, 68,000 of those American.

(Reporting by Ismail Sameem, Writing Jonathon Burch; Editing by Sugita Katyal)

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