Iraq accuses 'terrorist groups' of launching 45 attacks on electricity network

Government rocked by widespread power cuts as more supply lines are blown up amid rising heatwave

The southern Iraqi city of Basra is among those experiencing a summer heatwave. AFP
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Iraq's army said that 45 electricity pylons have been targeted by "terrorist groups" in recent months creating “security concerns” as the country’s power grids hang by a thread amid a scorching heatwave.

On Friday, a major power line failure led to a power cut that angered millions of Iraqis as the government struggles to deal with stretched public services and dilapidated infrastructure.

Four southern provinces have been without electricity since June 29, including Basra, home to Iraq's main port, and rising temperatures are compounded by high levels of humidity.

“Nearly 45 transmission lines have been targeted by terrorists in the past few days, which have been repaired,” the representative of Iraq’s Joint Operation Command Maj Gen Tahsin Al Khafaji told state media.

Gen Al Khafaji blamed ISIS militant group and said it was seeking to create panic throughout the country by targeting power lines during summer.

A joint operation between security forces and the electricity ministry was formed to discuss ways to tackle the widespread power cuts, involving members of the army, police and the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Units, Gen Al Khafaji said.

This comes as an electrical plant that feeds power to a water supply line into Karkh neighbourhood in Baghdad was blown up on Monday, the electricity ministry said, leaving thousands of people without electricity and water.

“This is a terrorist act and a direct target aiming to cut off drinking water to citizens,” the ministry said.

“Armed violence continues to negatively impact the infrastructure of the electricity sector and expose it to great losses by depriving citizens of energy and isolating regions and governorates from each other by blowing up power transmission lines and towers."

More than 60 transmission lines were damaged and seven staff members were killed and 11 injured in the attacks on the electricity networks, the ministry said.

Two electricity transmission lines near Mosul and Kirkuk in the north were destroyed and two electricity towers between the cities of Haditha and Al Qaim in Anbar, western Iraq, were blown up.

The attack resulted in a complete power cut in two districts in Anbar.

A 400-kilovolt line from Kirkuk to Qayara was sabotaged, as was a 132kV line in Salahaddin.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi set up a crisis committee to tackle the comprehensive power cuts and set out “emergency steps to increase the hours of electricity”.

Updated: July 05, 2021, 2:06 PM