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Bodies seen on the streets as Kenyan police fire live rounds at protesters

A CNN team witnessed the disturbing scenes and observed two bodies lying motionless on the ground. The ceremonial mace was also stolen from Kenya’s parliament as protesters stormed the assembly during anti-tax protests which turned violent.

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Kenyan police fired live rounds at demonstrators in Nairobi Tuesday as outrage swelled against a controversial finance bill that has sparked widespread protests.

A CNN team witnessed the disturbing scenes and observed two bodies lying motionless on the ground. The ceremonial mace was also stolen from Kenya’s parliament as protesters stormed the assembly during anti-tax protests which turned violent.

The mace, as described on the Kenyan governmental website, “is a highly ornamented staff of metal, wood or other materials, carried by a Mace-bearer or placed before a sovereign or other high official; in civic ceremonies or before a revered gathering to symbolize authority.”

Kenyan lawmakers who were at the parliament building escaped through an underground channel, CNN affiliate NTV Kenya reported.

According to NTV Kenya, lawmakers were evacuated as police went up against protesters, escaping to the nearby government building of Bunge Towers.

Earlier on Tuesday, Auma Obama, the half-sister of former United States President Barack Obama, was teargassed by police during an interview with CNN live on air while protesting against the bill.

“I can’t even see anymore, we’re being teargassed,” Obama said in dramatic footage captured by a CNN team on the ground.

Obama, a Kenyan-British activist, was speaking to CNN’s Larry Madowo alongside a group of young protesters when the group was teargassed in Nairobi.

Kenya is in the grip of nationwide protests against proposed tax hikes, culminating in a planned “total shutdown” of the country.

The demonstrations, sparked by the Finance Bill 2024, have seen citizens rally under the banner of “7 Days of Rage,” as the nation faces more days of upheaval.

“I’m here because look at what’s happening. Young Kenyans are demonstrating for their rights. They are demonstrating with flags and banners,” Obama said.

President William Ruto has said he wants to have dialogue with the protesters and that he is “proud” of them. However, security forces have been accused of abducting prominent Kenyans, particularly those who have large social media followings.

Amnesty International Kenya says it is investigating the whereabouts of up to 12 people who were “abducted in the middle of the night” ahead of Tuesday’s planned protests.

The list includes bloggers, content creators, human rights defenders, a doctor, and a parliamentary staffer, Amnesty Kenya executive director Irũngũ Houghton told CNN.

“We are horrified by some of the testimonies we have heard over the last 24 hours. We have about 12 people unaccounted for who have been picked up, in many cases, by people who are uninformed or not uniformed,” Houghton said, adding that they had not received legal assistance and their families didn’t know their whereabouts.

“We are now seeing not just abductions but disappearances,” he said.

CNN has reached out to the Kenyan police for comment.

The protests come as Kenya’s standing gains global prominence as US President Joe Biden designated the country a “major non-NATO ally” on Monday, marking the first time a sub-Saharan African nation has received this status.

In May, Biden announced his decision to elevate Kenya to this designation while hosting President Ruto at the White House for a grand state visit, celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

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