Hundreds of workers, some on horseback, have blocked the operations at a gold mine run by a Canadian-based mining company in Kyrgyzstan demanding its nationalization and more social benefits.

After several days of protests, some of the protesters on Thursday entered a power transformer unit and cut electricity to the Kumtor mine operated by Centerra Gold. The Kyrgyz Cabinet held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.

Kumtor, which accounts for about 12 percent of the economy of the impoverished ex-Soviet nation, was at the center of heated political debate among those seeking its nationalization and officials who believe that would deter much-needed foreign investment.

Kyrgyzstan, a country of 5 million people on China's mountainous western border, hosts a U.S. air base used to support military operations in nearby Afghanistan.