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Pakistanis protest power cuts, protester killed in clashes

Violence erupted at demonstrations against power cuts in several towns in northwestern Pakistan on Monday, leading to clashes with police that killed a protester and wounded several, officials said.

Hundreds of protesters burned and rampaged through government offices and police checkpoints, snatching valuables and police weapons, said Deputy Commissioner Malakand district, Zafar Ali Shah.

They tried to burn a main power station in the town of Dargai, he said. Similar clashes took place in Peshawar, Charsadda and Swat.

In Peshawar, protesters took to the streets for the third day of rallies and roadblocks, said police official Nasir Khan. At least two offices of the power supply department were ransacked, he said. Provincial lawmaker Fazl-e-Rabbi who led the rallies in Peshawar, said the protests would continue until the federal government ends disparity in the power distribution.

"We have complained to the power distributors to end the unscheduled outages, but they're not listening to us," said Shah, the deputy commissioner.

The protesters have been angered by the daily 10-12 hours of power cuts in the summer heat. The fact that Muslims fast and abstain from drinking water in daylight hours during the holy month of Ramadan has made things worse, Shah said.

Power cuts are common in energy-starved Pakistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took notice and instructed authorities to ensure power supply during Ramadan, especially at dawn, when Muslims start the daylong fast, and at dusk, when they break it with an evening meal, the iftar.