Pak power crisis triggers riots, 1 killed

Pak power cuts

One person was killed and private property and vehicles were damaged as violent protests erupted today in parts of Pakistan's Punjab province following prolonged power outages.

A large number of people took to the streets and damaged property to vent their anger against power cuts, whose duration is 12 hours in cities and 18 hours in rural areas.

In the provincial capital of Lahore, protesters ransacked a petrol pump and damaged several vehicles in Derogawala area.

As the protesters marched towards a Pakistan State Oil petrol pump, security guards warned them to stay away.

The guards opened fire when a mob they tried to set the pump on fire.

Two protesters sustained bullet injuries and were taken to a nearby hospital, where one of them was declared dead by doctors.

"Had the police acted in a timely manner, a life could have been saved," said Azim Hasan, an official at the petrol pump.

In Lahore and other cities like Faisalabad and Multan, protesters burnt tyres, uprooted placing electricity poles and placed large stones and other objects on roads to disrupt traffic.

They ransacked shops and attacked private and public transport vehicles alike.

Footage on television showed men armed with sticks attacking vehicles on streets and smashing their windows.

At Walton Road in Lahore, protesters broke the locks of over a dozen shops, smashed windows of several business outlets and partially damaged a number of private vehicles and buses. Officials said power cuts had increased as the electricity shortfall had risen to 5,500 MW, about 40 per cent of the estimated peak demand of 13,500 MW across the country.

Former premier Nawaz Sharif, whose PML-N party rules Punjab, said his supporters would join the protests.

He warned that if the federal government does not improve power supply to Punjab in a day or two, the PML-N will protest by marching to the presidency in Islamabad.

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