AfghanistanAsia-Pacific

Afghans spend hours in dark amid power pylon sabotage by militants

Afghan households and businesses in about a third of the war-ravaged country have been hit by blackouts in the wake of explosions carried out by militants that have destroyed pylons in the northern province of Baghlan, the main power utility says.

The utility, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), said on Monday that three pylons carrying 220 KW of electricity imported from neighboring Uzbekistan had been destroyed in the region over the weekend.

The power cut affected 11 of the 34 Afghan provinces. The capital Kabul has also suffered.

Laila, a Kabul resident who identified herself with a single name, told Xinhua she could not take care of her children in the darkness.

“My husband works in the army and comes home every other week. I am alone in the house with my three children. I scare of darkness and my children too,” she said, adding that she had to occasionally go to the neighbor’s house as they have solar-produced power.

DABS said engineers had arrived from neighboring provinces to work on restoring the pylons.

However, local villagers told media outlets that the technical teams were not able to reach the site as the area has been the battle ground for days and security forces failed to secure the area for repairing the destroyed power towers.

Afghanistan generates only 25 percent of its electricity domestically.

And the lines bringing power in from Uzbekistan come under regular attacks, forcing those that can afford it to rely on expensive diesel generators. Poorer families spend hours without power.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban militant group continues to strike installations at will. The group has vowed to continue fighting foreign forces following the collapse of peace talks with the United States in Qatar.

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Under a draft accord that the two sides had agreed to before the talks came to an end, thousands of US troops would have been pulled out over the next few months in exchange for guarantees by the Taliban that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militant attacks on the United States and its allies.

Speaking at a memorial service marking the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on Wednesday, President Donald Trump of the United States said the two sides “had peace talks scheduled a few days ago” but upon learning about the killing of “a great American soldier from Puerto Rico and 11 other innocent people,” he had “called them off.”

Trump said long-running talks with the Taliban in Qatar were also “dead,” to which the Taliban responded by threatening to kill more Americans in Afghanistan.

The Taliban has so far rejected a proposal to lay down arms and instead called on the US to end the use of force in Afghanistan. It also insists that talks cannot move ahead until foreign forces leave the country.

Nearly 20,000 foreign troops, most of them Americans, are currently deployed in Afghanistan as part of a mission to purportedly train, assist, and advise Afghan security forces.

The Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end following the US invasion in 2001, but 18 years on, Washington is seeking a truce with the militants, who still control large swathes of territory.

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