Militants bomb power transmission towers in Iraq

by Reuters
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 11:21 GMT

BAQUBA, Iraq, June 20 (Reuters) - Militants attacked electrical transmission towers and lines in Iraq's Diyala province on Wednesday, government and police sources said, in the latest wave of attacks that have swept the area in recent weeks.

Insurgents bombed seven pylons in Udhaim in northern Diyala - a central province that borders Iran - disrupting a line transmitting 20 megawatts from Baiji, 180 km (112 miles) north of Baghdad, a local electricity official said.

Power supplies to the town of Khalis and parts of Iraq's capital were also completely shut down, the official said.

"Electricity in these areas has been completely shut down and maintenance teams need at least a week to fix it," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

There were no casualties in the incident, police sources said.

Diyala has long been one of the most volatile areas in Iraq, where Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds live side by side in a fertile agricultural province crisscrossed by canals.

The town of Udhaim was an al Qaeda stronghold and, while the insurgents have been weakened, they still frequently carry out attacks in the area, including bombing power transmission towers.

Iraq has a chronic electricity shortage and the national power grid supplies only a few hours of power a day. Electricity supplies collapsed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, when power plants were looted or went without proper maintenance.

A suicide bomber killed at least 15 people at a Shi'ite funeral in the Diyala city of Baquba on Monday, the latest sectarian attack this month. (Reporting by Reuters reporter in Baquba; Writing by Suadad al-Salhy; Editing by Serena Chaudhry and Robin Pomeroy)

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