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Kenyan police fire blanks to disperse protesters hours after parliament breached

Kenyan police fire blanks to disperse protesters hours after parliament breached
An anti-government protester waves a Kenyan flag as police fire tear gas at them during   -  
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Brian Inganga/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


Authorities fired blanks to disperse protesters in a Nairobi suburb overnight Wednesday, hours after protestors stormed parliament in deadly demonstrations, burning parts of the building while legislators fled, as the country grapples with controversial tax increases.

Police said they fired over 700 blanks in Githurai, a suburb east of the capital Nairobi. Videos of gunfire piercing the night air were shared online and reported by local media.

The military was deployed overnight to support police during the "security emergency" and patrolled the central business district on Tuesday night as President William Ruto called the events treasonous and vowed to quash the unrest "at whatever cost."

Thousands of protesters stormed and burned a section of Kenya's parliament Tuesday to protest tax proposals. Police responded with gunfire and several protesters were killed.

READ ALSO: Protestors storm Kenya's parliament as MPs pass finance bill

More than 100 people were injured in Tuesday's protests, according to civil society groups. It is still unclear how many people were arrested.

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said he was deeply saddened by reports of deaths and injuries.

"I urge the Kenyan authorities to exercise restraint, and call for all demonstrations to take place peacefully," he wrote on the social media platform X.

The unprecedented protests that breached parliament saw young people rallying against rising prices for fuel, food and other necessities. In Nairobi, a regional hub for expatriates and home to a United Nations complex, inequality among Kenyans has sharpened along with long-held frustrations over state corruption.

READ ALSO: Kenya: Anti-tax protests marred by violence, President Ruto addresses nation

Opposition to the finance bill has united a large part of the country, with some explicitly rejecting the tribal divisions that have torn Kenya apart in the past. Some who had passionately supported Ruto felt betrayed.

A Kenyan newspaper, Daily Nation, called for dialogue. "Let's reason together," its front page said.

Citizen TV, a local broadcaster, led a discussion titled "A Nation on the Brink" with panellists calling on the government to engage with the public.

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