Jul 26, 11:04 AM EDT

Bombing kills 4 Afghan civilians; vote count halts

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A bomb blast in southern Afghanistan killed four civilians Saturday, an official said, as a recount in the country's presidential election halted before a major holiday.

A bomb hidden in a motorcycle killed the civilians in Marjah district and wounded four others, said Omer Zwak, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand province. Roadside bombings have escalated as the Taliban intensifies their campaign ahead of the withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign forces at the end of this year.

Meanwhile in Kabul, Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission stopped a recount in the runoff presidential election. Commission chairman Ahmad Yousuf Nouristani told reporters that the recount will resume later next week after celebrations marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Unofficial and disputed preliminary results of the June 14 runoff election showed former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai well ahead of his rival, former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

But since fraud was alleged on both sides, a deal negotiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry provides that every one of the 8 million ballots will be audited under national and international supervision over three or four weeks.

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