Protesters storm Suriname's parliament, rampage through capital as rally turns ugly

PARAMARIBO (Reuters) - Dozens of protesters forced their way into Suriname's parliament as hundreds more rampaged through the nation's capital Paramaribo on Friday, clashing with police as demonstrations against the government descended into chaos.

Thousands took to the streets of the capital Paramaribo in initially peaceful demonstrations against government austerity measures, including eliminating subsidies, against a backdrop of high inflation.

But the protests turned ugly when demonstrators throwing rocks and bottles at police stormed parliament's grounds, with some making their way into the building before being forced back, a Reuters witness said. Police fired tear gas in return.

Others started fires and looted city shops, many of which had closed as a precaution amid the unrest.

The government of President Chan Santokhi condemned the violence and said it had set up a task force to track down those responsible for attacking parliament.

"Vigorous action will be taken against the individuals who instructed, carried out and caused destruction in these attacks," it said in a statement.

Suriname, a former Dutch colony in northern South America with a population of 610,000. reported inflation of 54.6% for 2022.

The protests come in the same week that the smallest party in government left the ruling coalition, citing disagreements over poverty and social policies.

(Reporting by Ank Kuipers; Writing by Oliver Griffin; editing by John Stonestreet)

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