At least eight people have been killed during violence in 17 provinces of Argentina, sparked by a police strike that began six days ago, local media reported on Tuesday.
More than 150 people have been injured, some seriously, and about 300 people have been arrested for looting and vandalism, reports said. Riots began after police, demanding a salary increase and improved working conditions, went on strike.
The most tense situation occurred in the provinces of Tucuman, Jujuy, Santa Fe and Chaco, Buenos Aires television channel TN said. Police had not restored security in the four provinces, and in Tucuman and Jujuy sporadic shootings happened between looters, shopkeepers and police, it added.
"The Argentine people love peace and harmony. Therefore, this kind of protests that go way beyond of what is expected should be rejected by everyone," Jorge Capitanich, Argentina's chief of the cabinet of ministers, told a press conference.
Police officers in 17 provinces held protests "carrying guns with a clear intention to blackmail and put pressure on the provincial governments," he added.
He warned, "Demands should not be met through violence."
Lack of police surveillance enticed mobs in several Argentine provinces to loot supermarkets, stores and houses, though some provinces, including San Juan and Cordoba -- where unrest first erupted -- agreed deals to raise pay to defuse the tension.