KABUL: Afghan officials said on Saturday they hope to fully restore electricity to the capital now that security forces have cleared insurgents from an area in the northern Baghlan province where cables from Uzbekistan were damaged during heavy fighting.

Engineers had reconnected some cables and the work should be completed within five days, said Wahidullah Tawhidi, spoke­sman for the Afghanistan electricity directorate.

The severing of the cables late last month has left most of Kabul’s 5 million residents with just two hours of electricity a day. Many have had to rely on diesel generators and wood-burning stoves through the end of a mild winter.

The incident exposed the vulnerability of the capital’s energy supply 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. “We hope that power will soon be reconnected to Kabul,” he said.

It was unclear whether the cables were deliberately sabotaged or accidentally damaged during the fighting.

The Taliban have been battling 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.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2016

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