NAIROBI, KENYA—Police in Kenya shot and killed two opposition protesters who allegedly threw rocks at a police station, while police used tear gas on rallies in the capital and elsewhere demanding reforms ahead of the new presidential election this month.

The government on Thursday banned opposition protests in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, claiming that opposition supporters had looted businesses and attacked police stations.

At the same time, opposition leader Raila Odinga told The Associated Press he’s willing to return to the race if the government is “ready to do business and deal” on reforms.

Three other protesters had gunshot wounds in the deadly confrontation in the Odinga stronghold of Siaya County in western Kenya, Bondo police chief Paul Kiarie said. A statement by national police spokesman George Kinoti said a crowd of about 2,000 people threw rocks at the police station and robbed shops, leading to the shooting, which is being investigated.

The demonstrations defied a new government ban on opposition protests in the central business districts of Kenya’s three largest cities, while concerns rose again about election-related violence in East Africa’s largest economy.

 

The State Department urged Kenya’s security forces not to use “unnecessary force” and called for demonstrations to be peaceful.