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Kabul Struggles With Electrical Blackouts

FILE - An Afghan man repairs cables/ Insurgent attacks and poor weather have cut elecrical power to about six hours a day in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Militants and bad weather in northern Afghanistan have hampered efforts to repair power lines that were destroyed last week, cutting electricity here in the capital to about six hours a day, officials said Monday.

Insurgents last week destroyed an electricity pylon in the Dand Shahabuddin district of Baghlan province that brought powerfrom Uzbekistan to meet almost half of Kabul's 600 megawatt daily requirement.

Mirwais Alami, chief commercial officer at Afghanistan's national power company, said repair crews had been unable to get close to the power lines because of mines and the threat from insurgents. Residents reported more pylons had been brought down, he added.

"Enemy forces have brought machine saws and have been cutting down electricity pylons," he said.

The Taliban has denied responsibility, saying such tactics, which hit ordinary people, do not fit with their fight against the foreign-backed government.

The destruction of the power lines has hit businesses and industry and added further misery for Kabul's long-suffering residents, already tested by a series of suicide bomb attacks this year.

For the well-off with private generators, the cuts have meant higher fuel bills. But those who depend on the public grid have spent dark nights and relied on wood-burning stoves to fight the winter cold.

Abdul Satar Barez, Baghlan province's governor, said operations to secure the area for repair crews had been suspended.

"Taliban are still in the area. They are a threat and danger and we cannot launch our operation now. We are waiting for the weather to get better," he said, citing fog.