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Two killed in protests against power cuts in Pak Punjab

June 19, 2012 14:28 IST

Two persons were killed and property worth millions of rupees was damaged as violent protests against prolonged power outages spread across Pakistan's most populous province of Punjab, officials said on Tuesday.

Angry mobs that took to the streets in cities across Punjab have targeted government offices and homes of politicians belonging to parties that are members of the ruling coalition at the centre.

The protestors have focussed on homes of leaders of the Pakistan People's Party and PML-Q.

In Kamalia town, one person was killed and eight others were injured when private security guards fired at protestors who tried to attack the residence of PML-Q parliamentarian Riaz Fatiyana on Tuesday morning.

A teenager was killed and six others were injured when guards fired at a mob that attempted to storm the house of Hamid Yar Hira, an advisor to the prime minister, at Khanewal town on Monday.

Scores were injured during the violent protests on Monday and Tuesday. Public and private property worth millions of rupees were damaged or destroyed during the protests that turned violent two days ago.

As temperatures soared to more than 45 degrees Celsius in many parts of Punjab, mobs attacked offices of power utilities, government buildings, banks and stores.

The protestors blocked key highways at several places and torched an inter-city passenger train at Gujranwala.

The train was looted before it was set on fire though no one was injured in the incident, officials said. In Toba Tek Singh, the Business Express train going from Karachi to Lahore was stopped by hundreds of rioters for 45 minutes. The protestors blocked the Toba-Gojra road for over two hours.

Pakistan Railways suspended all train services between Lahore and Rawalpindi after rioters torched the train in Gujranwala district, 60 km from Lahore, late last night.

Protesters also blocked the Grand Trunk Road in Gujranwala for over nine hours. They torched an office of a power utility and several motorcycles.

In cities and towns like Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Khanewal, Kasur, Okara, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Chiniot and Toba Tek Singh, stick-wielding youths rampaged through the streets as police put up little or no resistance. At several places, policemen were injured as they tried to control the protests.

Punjab has witnessed violent protests for the past few days after many places experienced power outages of up to 22 hours.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif initially refused to take action against protestors. He later appealed to them to remain calm during protests.

Federal Power Minister Ahmed Mukhtar said FIRs will be registered against Sharif for prompting and joining protests against power cuts.

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