| 22 February 2024, Thursday |

Blasts cut power to millions in Afghanistan before Eid holiday

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 power outages come before the Eid al-Fitr holiday which marks the end of the 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.

On Friday, an explosion killed at least 10 worshippers after Friday prayers at a Kabul mosque, with some reporting the death toll to be as high as 50. Hundreds of worshippers had gathered for prayers on the last Friday of Ramadan and the mosque was packed.

Two explosions within minutes of each other on Thursday killed at least nine people and wounded 13 in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

“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 the AFP news agency.

“When there is no electricity, we can’t prepare for Eid. Everything is so difficult.”

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

Police said two suspects have been arrested over the attacks on the power supply.

Since seizing power, the Taliban have faced repeated attacks from the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K).

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

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

During the Taliban’s 20-year war with Afghanistan’s former US-backed government, the authorities in Kabul regularly accused armed groups of targeting transmission towers.

  • Aljazeera