December 7, 2011 / 1:57 PM / 9 years ago

Militants attack Iraq's power infrastructure

* Blast hits import line from Iran, killing policeman

* Bombs defused at power plant in Anbar

By Aseel Kami

BAGHDAD, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Militants have bombed electrical transmission towers and lines across Iraq, government and army sources said on Wednesday, in a wave of attacks that cut power to several cities and towns.

In eastern Diyala province, insurgents bombed four transmission towers, disrupting an electricity import line from Iran, Musab al-Mudarres, an Electricity Ministry spokesman said.

The blast killed a policeman and wounded two more, as they were protecting a maintenance team working to fix the power line on Tuesday, said Mudarres.

Two transmission lines were bombed three weeks ago near Samaraa, 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad, said Mudarres.

“We have power transmission lines up to 3,000 kilometres long, so providing protection for all of them is a difficult task,” Mudarres said, adding he expected the damage to be completely repaired within a week.

In the vast western Anbar province, the Iraqi army defused bombs planted around a power plant early on Wednesday, local army sources said. The attackers had tied up the guards and took their weapons, the sources said.

Electricity supplies collapsed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, when power plants were looted or went without proper maintenance. In subsequent years insurgents have targeted transmission towers and other infrastructure.

Iraqis complain of getting only few hours of electricity a day. Current capacity is 8,000 megawatts while the need is for around 14,000 megawatts, according to Iraqi officials.

Struggling to meet increasing demand, Iraq buys power from neighbouring countries and contracts with foreign firms to build new power plants.

Iraq imports around 800 megawatts from Iran through three power grid lines, and a new line with a capacity of 200 megawatt will be online in two days, Mudarres said. (Additional reporting by Kareem Raheem in Baghdad and Fadhil al-Badrani in Falluja; Editing by Rania El Gamal)

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