(dpa) - An angry mob on Monday set ablaze several vehicles and two buildings during a protest against power outages in central Pakistan, officials said.
More than 3,000 textile workers gathered in Multan, about 650 kilometres south of Islamabad, to protest prolonged power cuts that have closed down several production units and left hundreds of workers unemployed.
The rally soon turned violent when the protesters vandalized the office of the Multan Electric Power Company, the main power distributor in the city of more than 4.5 million people.
The agitators also beat up its employees and burned several vehicles and motorcycles in the parking area.
Riot police used tear gas and baton charges against the demonstrators, who pelted the officers with stones before setting a police van on fire.
"At least eight people were injured in the clashes, and more than 50 have been arrested," regional police chief Mirza Mohammed Ali said.
Television footage showed baton-wielding young rioters smashing the windows and doors of the power supplier. "Give us either electricity or death," a placard read.
"Our children suffer from 12 to 15 hours' load shedding at a time when the summer has already set in," demonstrator Anwar Hameed said, using a term that refers to power outages.
Pakistan is currently facing a power shortage of 4,000 megawatts because it has failed to build new power plants to keep up with the demand for electricity, resulting in prolonged outages every day.
The crisis was expected to deepen in the next few months as temperatures rise.
Analysts said they believe the power shortage is one of the major challenges faced by the new Pakistani government, sworn in last month.