A four-day assault by the Taliban on a key provincial capital has killed about 100 Afghan security forces, the country’s defense minister, Tariq Shah Bahrami, said Monday. Twenty to 30 civilians have been killed in the fighting, he said.

It is a major show of force by the Taliban as capturing Ghazni in the east of the country would cut off a key highway linking Kabul to the traditional insurgent heartland in the south.

The militants’ multipronged militant assault overwhelmed Ghazni, a strategic city of 270,000 people barely 75 miles from the capital, Kabul. That so many fighters were able to mass and threaten the key town piles pressure on the government of President Ashraf Ghani.

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