Militants attack pylon, cut power to Afghan capital

News Desk | April 16,2018 | 9:42 am

Taliban militants have attacked a transmission tower line in northern Afghanistan, causing a massive outage in the capital Kabul. Officials said Sunday that many residents of Kabul were left with no lights or running water after Taliban militants blew up a pylon in Baghlan Province.

Wahid Tawhidi, a spokesman for power utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), said Kabul had to do with only 95 megawatts, less than a quarter of its normal power supply, after the damage was inflicted to the transmission line.

Tawhidi said local DABS crew was unable to reach the site of the pylon to fix it due to recurrent attack by militants who were still in the area.

“Today when our team tried to go to the area, rockets were fired at their vehicles and they had to turn back,” said Tawhidi, adding that it was the fourth time in recent weeks that Kabul suffered an outage due to Taliban attacks on the power line transmitting electricity from the restive north. The official added that neighboring Nangarhar and Parwan provinces were also affected by the recent attack.

Mahmood Haqmal, a spokesman for provincial governor, said the pylon in Baghlan had been brought down by a mine.

“They have escaped the area but some of them are still in the mountains, preventing engineers from fixing the pylon,” said Haqmal.
Taliban also confirmed it had blown up the transmission line from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, with Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman of the group saying militants had “cut a cable in Baghlan Province”.

Taliban attack the power lines mainly because they want areas under the group’s control in Baghlan and Kunduz provinces be supplied with electricity, a demand that has yet to be met by the government in Kabul. The militants warned last months that such attacks will continue.

Afghanistan is still struggling to cope with its energy needs as the amount of electricity it imports from neighboring countries is insufficient to meet the increasing demand. Residents of the capital, who have become accustomed to power shortages, use diesel generators to provide backup power to their homes and businesses, especially during the colder months of the year when usage is higher.

The recent attack has caused some districts in Kabul to have just an hour of electricity a day.

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