Thousands of angry protesters stormed Burkina Faso's parliament and ransacked state television, forcing it off the air ahead of a planned vote on a motion to allow the veteran president to extend his 27-year rule.

Black smoke swirled in the air around parliament in Ouagadougou after demonstrators lit fires inside the building.

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Protesters pose with a police shield after angry demonstrators stormed parliament in OuagadougouAFP
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Prostesters storm parliament in Ouagadougou and set it on fire in protest at plans to change the constitution to allow President Blaise Compaore to extend his 27-year ruleAFP
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Crowds protest in front of smoke rising from the Burkina Faso Parliament, after demonstrators set fire to parked carsAFP
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Clouds of smoke rise from the Burkina Faso Parliament in OuagadougouAFP

Security forces protecting the area near the presidential palace fired live rounds and tear gas as crowds approached.

Police protecting the house of President Blaise Compaore's brother opened fire as demonstrators tried to attack the building, leaving three bodies lying motionless on the ground, a witness said.

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Men shout slogans in front of burning cars outside Burkina Faso's parliament buildingAFP
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A protester holds a sign likening Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore to EbolaReuters
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A man wears a mask comparing President Blaise Compaore to Ebola as people march in OuagadougouAFP
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Protesters march past graffiti reading "Blaise is a virus" in OuagadougouReuters

Parliament had been due to vote on a plan to change the constitution to allow President Blaise Compaore -- who took power in a coup in 1987 -- to stand for re-election again next year, when he was due to stand down.

Compaore's attempt to remain in power has deeply divided Burkina Faso, one of the world's poorest nations.

Compaore has ruled the cotton and gold-producing nation with a firm grip but, in recent years, he has faced increasing criticism, including from within his own camp and the military.

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President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, is pictured in New York in September 2013Reuters

Opposition to Compaore's plan have been mounting in recent days. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Ouagadougou and other towns across the country on Tuesday in what the opposition said was the start of a campaign of civil disobedience over the proposed constitutional reform.

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Police fire tear gas at protesters in Ouagadougou, after tens of thousands of people marched through the capital of Burkina Faso, calling for President Blaise Compaore to abandon plans to hold a referendum on changing term limits to allow him to stay in powerReuters

The protests have led to the government abandoning plans for legislation to extend President Blaise Compaore's 27-year rule.

Alain Edouard Traore, communications minister, confirmed the government had dropped a plan to amend the constitution to remove a two-term presidential term limit that would have allowed Compaore to seek re-election next year.