Police fire on demonstrators trying to storm Kenya parliament, several dead


NAIROBI (Reuters) - Police fired on demonstrators trying to storm Kenya's legislature on Tuesday and at least five protesters were shot dead, with sections of the parliament building set ablaze as lawmakers inside passed a bill to raise taxes.

Image: Associated Press

In chaotic scenes, protesters overwhelmed police and chased them away in an attempt to storm the parliament compound, with Citizen TV reporting protesters had managed to enter the Senate chamber.

Police opened fire after tear gas and water cannon failed to disperse the crowds.

A Reuters journalist counted the bodies of at least five protesters outside parliament. A paramedic, Vivian Achista, said at least 10 had been shot dead.

Another paramedic, Richard Ngumo, said more than 50 people had been wounded by gunfire. He was lifting two injured protesters into an ambulance outside parliament.

"We want to shut down parliament and every MP should go down and resign," protester Davis Tafari, who was trying to enter parliament, told Reuters. "We will have a new government."

Kenyan activist Auma Obama, the half-sister of former U.S. President Barack Obama, was among protesters tear-gassed during the demonstrations, a CNN interview showed.

Police eventually managed to drive the protesters from the building amid clouds of tear gas and the sound of gunfire. The lawmakers were evacuated through underground tunnels, local media reported.In Washington, the White House said the United States was closely monitoring the situation in Nairobi and urging calm.

Ambassadors and high commissioners from countries including Britain, the U.S. and Germany said in a joint statement they were deeply concerned by violence they had witnessed during recent anti-tax protests and called for restraint on all sides.

Internet services across the East African country experienced severe disruptions during the police crackdown, internet monitor Netblocks said. Kenya's leading network operator Safaricom said outages had affected two of its undersea cables but the root cause of the disruptions remained unclear.

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