Afghan official: Kabul power to be reconnected soon

AP News
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Posted: Feb 20, 2016 5:05 AM

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan's capital will soon have electricity fully restored, weeks after insurgents destroyed cables from Uzbekistan providing power to the capital, officials said on Saturday.

The military had cleared Taliban-linked fighters from the area of northern Baghlan province where the cables were destroyed by Taliban-linked fighters, said Wahidullah Tawhidi, spokesman for the Afghanistan electricity directorate.

Engineers had reconnected some cables and the work should be completed within five days, he said.

Kabul, a city of almost 5 million, has been without secure power since late January, when militants sabotaged the cables during a military operation to clear them from the region.

As a result, residents have shivered through the last stages of a mild winter, many relying on wood-burning stoves or buying generators run on diesel.

The city relies on power transmitted via cables that stretch hundreds of kilometers (miles) across the country.

The destruction of the cables during battles between government forces and the militants exposed the vulnerability of the capital to the war largely being fought elsewhere, as well as the country's reliance on power from outside its own borders. Afghanistan also buys electricity from Tajikistan.

The governor of Baghlan, Abul Satar Barez, said the military had cleared insurgents from the Dand-e-Shahabuddin district, where the cables were cut by anti-government fighters.

"We hope that power will soon be reconnected to Kabul," he said.

The military operation also aimed to ensure that Dand-e-Shahabuddin remained secure, to prevent further disruption.

The Taliban have been fighting the government for 15 years. Following the drawdown of the international combat mission in 2014, the insurgents spread across the northern provinces bordering Central Asia.

The insurgents are currently fighting on three fronts, engaging Afghan forces in the northern province of Badakhshan, bordering Tajikistan, in Kunduz — where they took control of the provincial capital for a short period in September — and in Helmand, a major drug-producing province in the south.

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Associated Press writer Lynne O'Donnell contributed to this report.