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Kenya's parliament set on fire after protests against controversial tax changes turn to riots

Protesters scatter as Kenyan police spray water canon at them during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill in downtown Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday
Protesters scatter as Kenyan police spray water canon at them during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill in downtown Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday Copyright AP Photo/Brian Inganga
Copyright AP Photo/Brian Inganga
By Euronews with AP
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A part of the parliament building in Nairobi was set on fire by protesters who managed to break inside following protests gathering thousands, while reports say several dead bodies can be seen in the streets of the Kenyan capital.

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A part of Kenya's parliament building was set on fire on Tuesday as thousands of protesters against a new finance bill entered the building, in what is the most direct assault on the government in decades.

Journalists in Nairobi reported at least three dead bodies outside the complex where police had opened fire on protesters.

They had demanded that legislators vote against a controversial bill imposing new taxes on a country where frustrations over the high cost of living have simmered for years.

The protesters outmanoeuvred police to enter parliament shortly after politicians voted to pass the bill.

Lawmakers fled through a tunnel, but the protesters allowed opposition legislators who voted against the bill to walk out of the besieged building.

Protesters scatter as Kenya police spray water canon at them during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill in downtown Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday
Protesters scatter as Kenya police spray water canon at them during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill in downtown Nairobi, Kenya on TuesdayBrian Inganga/The AP

The office of the Nairobi governor, a member of the ruling party, was also said to be on fire. Located near parliament, police water cannons were being used to extinguish the fire.

Protesters could be heard shouting, “We’re coming for every politician."

Police officers were criticised by The Kenya Human Rights Commission. They released video of the authorities firing live ammunition and throwing tear-gas canisters at protesters who had sought treatment at a medical tent set up at a church near the parliament complex.

The Commission said the officers would be held to account.

The incident comes after two people died in similar protests last week.

More than 50 people 'abducted'

Kenya Law Society President Faith Odhiambo claimed on Tuesday that 50 people, including her personal assistant, had been “abducted” by those believed to be police officers.

Some of those missing are said to include those who were vocal in the demonstrations and were taken away from their homes, workplaces and public spaces ahead of Tuesday's protests, civil society groups said.

Kenyan riot police arrest a man during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill in Nairobi on Tuesday
Kenyan riot police arrest a man during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill in Nairobi on TuesdayBrian Inganga/The AP

Police have not immediately returned calls seeking comment. Parliament Speaker Moses Wetangula had directed the inspector general of police to provide information on the whereabouts of those the opposition said were abducted.

Kenyan President William Ruto attended an African Union retreat outside the capital during the chaos, according to reports.

On Sunday, he said he was proud of the young people who had come out to exercise their democratic duty and that he would engage with them about their concerns.

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