Kenyan police were facing accusations of brutality after they fired tear gas to disperse schoolchildren demonstrating against the removal of their school's playground.

Nairobi police used methods usually reserved for rioters against pupils from the Langata Road Primary School who were protesting against the acquisition of the recreational area by a private developer.

The students, aged between six and 14 years, had pulled down a perimeter wall and defiantly started playing in what was their playground, when security forces intervened.

Photos and video footage from the scene showed crying children fleeing from teargas, while others were carried away screaming and chocking. Some were reportedly injured.

Police dogs were also deployed in the operation that rights activists and opposition leaders said was carried out to protect the interests of a powerful politician.

Last week, Eliud Owalo from the opposition Orange Democratic Movement, claimed the playground was grabbed to build a parking lot serving an adjacent hotel owned by a powerful official - who has not been named.

Human rights activist Boniface Mwangi also supported the claim. "The governor, the senator and other government officials are all scared of the politician, they cannot do anything to stop the playground from the being taken," he said.

Prominent opposition figure Raila Odinga condemned police violence.

"This is brutality beyond words and greed beyond description. It is difficult to believe that police can actually deploy against primary school children and lob tear gas at them to defend a land grabber," he said.

"This image of a nation determined to steal forcefully from its own children cannot be what we aspire to. It cannot be the legacy we want to bequeath the children".

Elijah Mwangi, the police officer in charge at the school demonstration, has been suspended following the outcry, acting police chief Samuel Arachi said.

"We will never allow officers to use force not only on any citizen more so on children whether in a demonstration or otherwise," he said.

Mwangi however has maintained he was following orders. Police said they arrested five people over the protest, three for vandalism and two for incitement.