Violent protests in Nairobi after alleged COVID curfew killing

The incident comes just two days after six police officers appeared in a Nairobi court over the death of two brothers in early August for allegedly breaking the 10 pm to 4 am coronavirus curfew in force across Kenya.

FILE: Medical staff in personal protective equipment (PPE) prepare to start their rounds in Kenyatta stadium turned into a mass isolation facility for COVID-19 patients on 3 August 2020 at Kenya's eastern town of Machakos. Picture: Tony Karumba/AFP

NAIROBI - Kenyan police used tear gas and fired shots in the air to break up violent protests that erupted in Nairobi on Thursday after a man was allegedly killed by officers for violating a COVID curfew.

Police said they were investigating the death of a 38-year-old motorcycle taxi rider who local residents said was beaten to death as he was heading home on Wednesday night.

Several shops were looted by mobs of youths and others vandalised during the chaos that rocked the eastern Nairobi district of Kayole after John Kiiru's death, residents said.

His widow Esther Wanjiru said her husband had called her shortly after midnight and told her he had been beaten by police, but she did not hear from him again.

His body was found on Thursday, but locals blocked roads and set fires to try to prevent police from taking it away.

"It took time before police came and started firing in the air and throwing tear gas to disperse the protesters who had also blocked roads with bonfires," said Mercy Mwangi, standing near her second-hand clothes shop in Kayole.

"They are just robbing people, they have stolen my phone and wallet and I have seen them beat pedestrians and steal from them. We need police to intervene. We can't open shops now," she added.

The incident comes just two days after six police officers appeared in a Nairobi court over the death of two brothers in early August for allegedly breaking the 10 pm to 4 am coronavirus curfew in force across Kenya.

Prosecutor said the officers - already suspended from the force - will face murder charges in a case that has provoked a national outcry and sometimes violent demonstrations.

Nairobi police chief Augustine Nthumbi would not comment on whether Kiiru had also died at the hands of police.

"We are addressing the matter and an investigation will be undertaken to establish the circumstances under which he died. We appeal for residents to be calm and stop the chaos," he said.

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