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NAIROBI: At least ten people were shot dead in Kenya’s capital on Tuesday, a paramedic said, as protests against tax legislation turned into violent clashes with police.

Sections of Kenya’s parliament were on fire on as protesters overwhelmed police to storm the compound where lawmakers had just passed a contentious bill that would introduce a raft of new taxes, Reuters witness said.

Police fired tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets and, according to a rights group, live ammunition against protesters, as tensions sharply escalated in protests that have caught the government off guard.

IMF reaches staff level agreement with Kenya, urges fiscal consolidation

“The controversial Finance Bill 2024 has passed in Parliament despite nationwide protests by Kenyans demanding its rejection. 195 lawmakers voted in favour of the Bill, 106 voted against while three votes were spoilt,” Kenyan news channel KTN News reported.

The mainly Gen-Z-led rallies have galvanised outrage over the tax hikes and simmering anger over a cost-of-living crisis.

“Despite the assurance by the government that the right to assembly would be protected and facilitated, today’s protests have spiraled into violence,” said a joint statement from several NGOS, including Amnesty Kenya, which reported the dead and wounded.

“This is the voice of the young people of Kenya,” said Elizabeth Nyaberi, 26, a lawyer at a protest. “Although they are tear gassing us, but we don’t care. We are here to speak for our generations and the generations to come,” she added.

Internet service down

Kenya’s internet network service is experiencing a major disruption following deadly crackdown by police on protesters in anti-tax demonstrations, internet monitor Netblocks said on Tuesday.

United States reaction

The United States is closely monitoring the situation in Nairobi, where police opened fire on demonstrators trying to storm the Kenyan parliament, and is urging calm, a White House National Security Council spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Kenyan opposition leader demands end to violence

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga has demanded an immediate end to violence against anti-finance bill protesters and has called for dialogue and international intervention, KTN News reported on Tuesday.

Kenyan shilling stable, horticulture inflows offset manufacturers’ FX demand

Earlier, the opposition’s main alliance, Azimio, said the government had “unleashed brute force on our country’s children”.

“Kenya cannot afford to kill its children just because the children are asking for food, jobs and a listening ear,” it said in a statement.

Military to tackle ‘violent protests’: minister

Kenyan defence minister said the military had been deployed to support embattled police officers.

The military was deployed to support the police “in response to the security emergency caused by the ongoing violent protests” across Kenya “resulting in destruction and breaching of critical infrastructure”, Aden Bare Duale said in a statement.

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