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>> The Afghan Taliban said they're in control of most of the city of Ghazni on Monday, after 4 days of fighting. Hundreds of people have been killed or wounded in the clashes. Diplomats in the capital Kabul tell Reuters, the government says they were surprised when the attack began late last week.
Ghazni is a strategic center on the highway that links Kabul to the country's south. People fleeing Ghazni have described the bodies in the streets, while aid groups say hospitals are struggling to take in the wounded. The Taliban siege is a blow to President Ashraf Ghani, weeks before a parliamentary election, that dashes hopes the two sides could begin peace talks.
On Monday after days of silence, Ghani said on Twitter that reinforcements would be sent to the city, and the defense minister said special forces had been dispatched.>> Our message to the people of Afghanistan, and especially for Ghazni residents is that Afghan security forces are ready to defend their people and country at any time, by accepting sacrifices on the battlefield.
>> Officials say US forces are on the ground helping to coordinate air strikes. US military said it's launched at least two dozen of them since Friday. While the government said the situation had improved by mid-Monday the Taliban claimed they still controlled much of the city. It all adds to tension ahead of October's election and raises questions over the threat posed by the Taliban and other armed insurgents.
While the fight raged in Ghazni a suicide bomber in Kabul set off a deadly blast near a crowd of protesters at the Election Commission. Officials say at least one police officer was killed and another was wounded.