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    Taliban allow repair work on damaged power lines

    LASHKARGAH (PAN): Taliban have reportedly asked the government to launch repair work on damaged electricity cables in southern Helmand province, an official said on Saturday.

    Provincial officials had accused the Taliban of damaging the power supply lines in Haiderabad area of Greshk district two weeks ago, disrupting power supply to Musa Qala, Kajaki, Greshk districts and Lashkargah and Kandahar City.

    The lines had been providing power from Kajaki hydroelectric power dam to some districts in Helmand and Kandahar.

    The Water and Energy Director, Ahlullah Obaidi, told Pajhwok Afghan News the Taliban had given a go-ahead signal to the officials for the repair of the lines. However, he would not say when the Taliban allowed them to do so. He said they had dispatched a group of engineers to start work on the lines.

    According to deputy governor, Abdul Satar Mirzakwal, the Taliban received 16.5 million afghanis per month in electricity bills. However, the water and energy department officials said the amount was 36 million afghanis.

    Taliban are paid the money in accordance with an agreement that they would not damage the lines.

    It is believed the Taliban showed flexibility in their stance a day after Helmand officials decided to suspend power supply to the areas under their control, like Musa Qala, Sangin and Zamindar districts.

    Mirzakwal told a press conference on Saturday the people of Zamindar and Musa Qala had talked to him that they would hold talks with the Taliban in exchange for the resumption of power supply.

    ss/ma