Kenyan officials on Tuesday rushed to condemn the use of teargas against children at a Nairobi primary school who were protesting at the loss of their playground.
Monday’s incident was widely broadcast on local and international media, and many Kenyans took to social media to show their outrage, some using the Twitter hashtag #OccupyPlayGround.
Police were seen firing at least three canisters of tear gas just outside the Langata Primary School as several hundred tried to knock down a wall surrounding the playground in protest at what they called an illegal “land grab” to turn it into a car park.
Children wearing green school uniforms were seen scampering away from the clouds of gas, coughing and choking.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said he had censured the Ministry of Lands and the National Land Commission for failing to address the dispute sooner.
He also said the head teacher should answer for the fact that the children had been allowed to protest.
“Even when we want to protest, we must do it in a civilized manner and not involve children,” Kenyatta said at a public event.
Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery visited the school to echo Kenyatta’s message. A police spokesman said that “a level of force which is not commensurate to the persons involved” appeared to have been used, and the officers involved would be held accountable.