Blasts cut power to millions in Afghanistan ahead of Eid

·2-min read
People shop at a market in Kabul on Saturday (AFP/Wakil KOHSAR) (Wakil KOHSAR)

Millions of people across 11 provinces in Afghanistan faced blackouts on Saturday after two power transmission towers were blown up just west of the capital Kabul, authorities said.

The outages come ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Two pylons in the province of Parwan were bombed late on Friday, cutting off electricity to the capital and neighbouring provinces.

"The enemies... have blown up two electricity pylons with bombs," Hekmatullah Maiwandi, a spokesman for the state-run DABS electricity company, said in a video statement.

Five teams from the firm have been deployed to carry out repairs, he added.

"The pylons are installed on top of mountains and our teams are trying to fix them," Maiwandi said.

Temporary repairs would be performed to partially restore power by Saturday night before a full restoration of the towers can be completed in two weeks, he added.

Police said two suspects have been arrested over the explosions.

Many residential buildings and businesses in Kabul, a city of about five million people, booted up private generators Saturday to ensure electricity supply ahead of Eid celebrations.

Afghanistan is largely reliant on electricity imported from northern neighbours Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, making cross-country power lines a prime target for insurgents.

During the Taliban's 20-year war with Afghanistan's former US-backed government the authorities in Kabul regularly accused the hardline Islamists of targeting transmission towers.

However, since seizing power the Taliban have faced attacks from the jihadist Islamic State group.

IS has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks targeting the minority Shiite and Sufi communities in the last two weeks, killing dozens of civilians.

"Nobody is happy during this Eid as so many families are mourning because of the recent blasts. Now the pylons have been blown up too," Khatera Fakhri, a Kabul resident, told AFP.

"When there is no electricity we can't prepare for Eid. Everything is so difficult."

abh-jd/axn

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