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U.S. Soldier, Seven Afghans Killed As Blackouts Hit One-Third Of Afghanistan

FILE: A damaged electricity pylon in Baghlan Province.
FILE: A damaged electricity pylon in Baghlan Province.

A U.S. service member and at least seven Afghans have been killed across Afghanistan, while one-third of the country was hit by a blackout.

The NATO-led Resolute Support mission said the service member was killed in action but did not provide further details.

The death brings to 17 the number of U.S. soldiers killed in combat in the country this year, according to the Pentagon's count.

Earlier, Afghan officials said at least seven people had been killed in separate attacks.

The deaths come about a week after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly called off talks to end the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan, citing a recent Taliban attack in Kabul that killed a U.S. soldier.

Mohibullah Mohib, spokesman for the police chief of the western Farah Province, said five people, including women and children, were killed when a roadside bomb hit a vehicle on September 15 near the provincial capital of Farah.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the Taliban is active in the province and earlier this month it launched an offensive to take the city of Farah. The insurgents briefly seized an army recruitment center and set it ablaze.

A sticky bomb attached to a minibus belonging to the university in Ghazni Province exploded and killed the bus driver on September 16. Arif Noori, spokesman for the provincial governor, said five Ghazni University students were also wounded in the blast.

In eastern Logar Province, a schoolgirl died in the crossfire during a battle in the Mohammad Agha district between the Taliban and the security forces, the police said. A second student was wounded.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan's main power utility said that households and businesses in about a third of the country have been hit by blackouts after electricity pylons in the northern province of Baghlan were blown up over the weekend.

The utility, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), said on September 16 that three pylons carrying 220 KW of electricity imported from neighboring Uzbekistan had been destroyed the previous day, cutting power in 11 of the country's 34 provinces, including the capital, Kabul.

There was no claim of responsibility for the attacks, which come as fighting has intensified in northern provinces including Baghlan amid stalled efforts by the United States and the Taliban to agree plans to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

DABS said engineers had arrived from neighboring provinces to work on restoring the pylons.

Afghanistan generates only 25 percent of its electricity domestically and the lines bringing power in from Uzbekistan have been attacked regularly, forcing those that can afford it to rely on expensive diesel generators.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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