An animal protection group in South Africa says rioters attacked and burned a truck in which newly hatched chickens were being transported, killing 38,000 birds.

Police on Tuesday were monitoring the tense situation in the Lichtenburg area in North West province, where a police vehicle also was set on fire during protests against what residents say is a lack of basic municipal services.

The NSPCA, a national group, says the day-old chicks were killed Friday when protesters stole some of them from a truck, drove over others and set the vehicle on fire with many birds still inside.

The group describes the attack as "viciously cruel."

Group manager Grace de Lange says the birds were being transported from hatcheries to farms when the attack happened.