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Violent clashes as Kenya opposition stages third day of protests

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Violence broke out in Kenya on Thursday, the third day of opposition demonstrations to protest at the government and the high cost of living.

Security was tight, with police in riot gear patrolling the capital Nairobi after fierce clashes erupted during similar protests on Monday.

On Thursday, dozens of people in the congested Nairobi neighbourhoods of Mathare and Kibera engaged police in running battles, throwing rocks and burning tyres while officers responded with tear gas.

In opposition leader Raila Odinga's lakeside bastions of Kisumu and Homa Bay in western Kenya, protesters also hurled rocks at police and lit bonfires in the middle of the road.

Odinga has called for protests every Monday and Thursday, accusing President William Ruto of stealing last year's election and of failing to control the surging cost of living.

The demonstrations -- declared illegal by the government -- have turned violent on previous days, with police firing tear gas, water cannon and occasionally live bullets, while looters have gone on the rampage.

Two civilians have been killed and 51 police officers and 85 civilians injured, according to government figures.

The international community and religious leaders have called for calm, voicing fears that the violence could degenerate into the ethnic post-election fighting witnessed after the 2007 election that claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people.

"We are deeply concerned by the recent unrest and violence as well as destruction of places of worship and private property," eight foreign embassies, including the United States and former colonial power Britain said in a joint statement Wednesday.

"We therefore call on all leaders and all Kenyans to maintain peace, show restraint, and work toward a swift resolution for the common good of Kenya."

The African Union also appealed Tuesday for calm and political dialogue to put paid to chaos.


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