Police say they fired rubber bullets to scatter violent residents protesting their poor living conditions in several eastern South African towns.

Police spokesman Captain Leonard Hlathi said Tuesday protesters torched a municipal office in the eastern town of Belfast. Two police officers were injured by thrown stones, he said.

Police also fired rubber bullets to quell violence in two nearby towns and a fourth town to the south.

Nearly 60 people have been arrested in the protests, some which began a few weeks ago.

Protests across South Africa have been increasing in their intensity and violence.

Many South Africans live in poverty and President Jacob Zuma is under pressure to improve basic services like water and electricity.