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12 killed as Angry protesters burn down section of Kenya parliament

Some protesters have reportedly been shot dead and a section of Kenya’s parliament has gone up in flames amid fierce demonstrations against new tax proposals.…

Some protesters have reportedly been shot dead and a section of Kenya’s parliament has gone up in flames amid fierce demonstrations against new tax proposals.

An angry crowd broke through police lines to storm the parliamentary complex in the capital Nairobi – minutes later live TV footage showed smoke escaping from inside.

For several hours had police fired tear gas and rubber bullets as thousands of people marched through Nairobi’s streets to denounce tax hikes, which the government says are needed to lower the national debt.

Footage from multiple Kenyan media outlets also show people battling a fire at City Hall – the office of the Nairobi county governor.

The youth-led protests began last week and have now spread to other locations in the country.

The Kenya Medical Association said that police in Nairobi shot dead at least five people during the latest protests on Tuesday.

About 40 people are reportedly being treated in hospital.

Police have not yet commented on casualty figures.

A human rights organisation said it had witnessed four protesters being shot, and said that one person had been been killed.

“Such actions are unacceptable and constitute a grave violation of human rights,” the Kenya Human Rights Commission said.

At least two people died and hundreds others were injured in last week’s demonstrations, which were largely peaceful.

But on Tuesday BBC journalists reported hearing live shots fired by police.

A cathedral in Nairobi, which doctors are using as a medical camp, has been receiving streams of demonstrators.
Police were deployed to protect key government buildings, but protesters shouting “reject the finance bill!” overwhelmed security and breached parliament in the afternoon.

Hundreds of MPs were unable to leave parliament and reportedly took cover in the basement as protesters stormed the building.

As a result of the protests, many businesses across the country have been forced to close and transport systems have been paralysed.

The protests were sparked when MPs passed a controversial finance bill, which includes unpopular tax proposals.
The government has rowed back on some of the most contentious proposals, but this has done little to assuage public anger.

A BBC reporter in Nairobi said the crowds were much bigger than in previous protests and the police seemed to be overwhelmed.
Earlier, an AFP journalist reported hearing a police officer to tell his colleagues to ” get the rubber bullets from the box”.
The police then reportedly started firing in the air and at protesters.

“There are some things that are hard to understand, like how can you impose 16% tax on bread? How can you tax sanitary pads?” 24-year-old Derrick Mwathu told the BBC.

He was referring to some of the measures initially proposed – the government has since said it will not impose a tax on bread and will only tax imported sanitary items.

Ahead of the demonstrations, lawyers and human rights groups expressed concern about arbitrary arrests and the intimidation of activists.

Their concerns followed reports that at least five prominent social media users were abducted at dawn on Tuesday, hours before the demonstrations.

The protests have attracted the attention of Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine and radical South African politician Julius Malema, who have both expressed their support.

Mr Ruto acknowledged the protests and promised he will hold talks to address protestors concerns.

Culled from BBC

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