Blast cuts power to Afghan capital Kabul

A bakery is seen at night in Kabul, on Oct 2, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL (AFP) - An explosion brought down electricity lines and cut off power to Kabul on Thursday (Oct 21), in a further blow to Taliban efforts to stabilise Afghanistan two months after they seized control.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear, but if it is confirmed as an attack it will be further evidence that hardline militants are turning the former rebel Taliban's own insurgent tactics against them.

"Moments ago, an explosion blew up a power pylon in Qala Murad Beg area of Kabul province, cutting off a 220 kV imported power line," the Breshna power company said in a message to customers.

"As a result the electricity transmission was cut off in Kabul and some other provinces."

As the power went down at about 6pm (9.30pm, Singapore time), lights flickered and went dark in Kabul - home to more than 4.5 million people - and private generators kicked into operation at businesses and wealthier residences.

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

During the Taliban's own 20-year struggle against the former United States-backed government the rebels regularly attacked power infrastructure.

But after seizing power in mid-August the movement has faced in its turn often deadly bomb attacks from fellow hardliners the Islamic State group.

In its message, Breshna said it had sent engineers to the area, just to the north of the capital city, "and when the situation allows, they will start repairing the connection".

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