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ISLAMABAD - A massive blackout struck Pakistan early Sunday, leaving as much as 80 percent of the country without electricity at its height as officials rushed to restore power.

By mid-morning Sunday, officials said power had been restored to roughly half this country of 180 million people.

A militant attack on a transmission tower in the southwestern Baluchistan province caused the blackout, said Zafaryab Khan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Water and Power. Khan said the attack caused a power surge that eventually affected about 80 percent of the country.

Khan estimated that it would take another six to eight hours for the rest of the power to be restored to the system.

"We are awake and monitoring the situation to ensure the earliest possible restoration of electricity to all," a message on the Twitter account of Minister of State for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali read.

The blackout emphasized the decrepit state of Pakistan's electrical grid. The country often suffers through long hours of electricity outages, as well as periodic natural gas and gasoline shortages.



- The Associated Press