Several Killed, Scores Injured as Kenyan Police Open Fire on Anti-Tax Bill Protesters


Parts of Parliament Set Ablaze Amid Clashes in Nairobi

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**Published On:** 25 Jun 2024 | **Updated:** an hour ago

Several people have been killed after Kenyan police fired live rounds at protesters attempting to storm the legislature in Nairobi, where lawmakers passed a contentious finance bill increasing taxes.

Thousands joined the youth-led demonstration on Tuesday, demanding lawmakers reject the bill amid rising tensions over a cost-of-living crisis. Legislators approved the bill, and some fled the chamber as protesters breached the Parliament complex, setting parts of the building ablaze.

Police eventually dispersed the protesters with tear gas and gunfire, evacuating lawmakers through underground tunnels, local media reported. According to the Kenya Medical Association and several NGOs, at least five people were killed, and 31 were wounded. Of the injured, 13 were shot with live bullets and four with rubber bullets.

“Despite the government’s assurance that the right to assembly would be protected, today’s protests have spiraled into violence,” the groups stated.

President William Ruto condemned the protests as “treasonous,” accusing dangerous elements of hijacking the debate over tax increases. He emphasized the priority of Kenyan citizens’ security. Police opened fire after tear gas and water cannon failed to disperse the crowds.

Defence Minister Aden Duale announced the deployment of the army to support police in controlling the “security emergency,” addressing the “destruction and breaching of critical infrastructure.”

Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from outside Parliament, witnessed the body of a young man carrying a Kenyan flag with a bullet hole in his forehead. Groups of uniformed and plainclothes police were seen firing into the crowds.

NetBlocks, an internet monitor, reported a major disruption in Kenya’s internet service amidst the crackdown by police. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed deep concern over the violence, saddened by reports of deaths and injuries, including among journalists and medical personnel.

Tuesday’s demonstration marked the third round of protests against the bill. Last week, two people were killed during demonstrations. The protests, largely led by young activists, erupted over tax hikes that would increase prices on essentials like diapers and sanitary towels.

Al Jazeera’s Zein Basravi noted that the protests are not politically led but spontaneous, primarily involving teens and young adults fighting for their future, opposing corruption, and demanding freedom.

Protests and clashes occurred in several other Kenyan cities and towns, with many calling for President Ruto to resign. Parliament moved the finance bill to a third reading, and it will next be sent to the president for signing. Last year, a similar tax hike was immediately signed into law.

The Nairobi governor’s office, near Parliament, was briefly on fire, extinguished by police water cannons. Protesters could be heard shouting, “We’re coming for every politician!”

In Kisumu, Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi reported that protesters were trying to reach State House, the president’s home, but were blocked by police units securing the area. Despite some amendments to the bill, such as removing a bread tax, the changes failed to appease protesters.

“Everyone is coming out because we’re tired,” said 28-year-old protester Hanifa Farsafi. “People are tired and unemployed, and they keep pushing these punitive taxes.”

By Naija247news
By Naija247news
Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

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