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Woman killed in Malindi protests

24 March 2015, 11:22

Nairobi - A woman was killed on Kenya's coast when demonstrators opposing higher local business taxes clashed with riot police, police and residents said.

Hundreds of demonstrators had gathered in Malindi, north of Kenya's main port of Mombasa, to oppose taxes imposed by the regional Kilifi County government. Many businesses closed as some demonstrators fought running street battles with police.

Under a new constitution, Kenya has given local authorities more autonomy including over raising revenue. Businesses complain that some authorities are driving up costs and bureaucracy.

The protesters said all the licence fees they need to operate, such as daily licences for street vendors, had been doubled.

Residents said police used teargas and live ammunition to disperse the crowd.

"They shot her in the head as she was trying to wash away the teargas from her face. She died on the spot," Fred Mundia, a local businessman who was in the protest, told Reuters from the mortuary where the victim's body was taken.

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"They must arrest the officer and charge him with murder, otherwise this town shall not have peace," he said, cheered on by others nearby.

But police denied killing the woman or using live rounds. "They had instructions to maintain peace and control the demonstrators, not to shoot them," Douglas Kirocho, Kilifi County police chief, told Reuters.

"We are aware one person was killed during the riots, and we are investigating what caused the death. Anything is possible with the confusion that was there."

Protests subsided later in the day, but many businesses stayed shuttered for fear of looting.

Since last year, there have been similar protests in other Kenyan counties by businesses complaining about drastic increases in fees charged before they are allowed to operate.

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- Reuters


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