Kenyan president condemns police tear-gassing of primary school students

Students flee after tear gas is fired at the Nairobi school

The firing of tear gas at a crowd of school children in Kenya has been condemned as “deplorable” by the country's president.

A senior cabinet minister also personally apologised to the students when he visited the school in Nairobi – the day after police acted during a demonstration to save a school playground from property developers. Five children needed hospital treatment after officers fired tear gas at the crowd at Lang'ata Road Primary School.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery told the students today: “I would not expect a trained officer to throw teargas at children. I want to assure you that action will be taken against the officers.”

The children had returned from a two-week break after a teachers' strike. They were gassed when they tried to break down a barrier erected around the school playground by a so-called “land grabber”. Mr Nkaissery added: “We are sorry, the developer must bring down the remaining wall within 24 hours.”

Students scramble up a bridge after tear-gassing

President Uhuru Kenyatta blamed his Lands Secretary Charity Ngilu and National Lands Commission chairman Muhammad Swazuri for the row that led to the incident, according to the Nairobi News. He said: “If the minister and Swazuri knew that the Lang’ata school playground was grabbed, what did they do? They have more to answer than the police.”

The Nairobi News reported that the wall around the playground was built during the night on December 12. In a review of the “landgrab”, National Land Commission Chairman Muhammad Swazuri visited the playground last week and said he would liaise with the county government to have it available to the children when schools reopened after the strike.

A report released last year by a taskforce on education  showed 36 out of Nariobi’s 205 schools had parts of their land grabbed.

Watch video footage of the tear gas incident.