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‘Disturbed, distressed & saddened’: World leaders react after violence grips US Capitol, urging calm & ‘respect for democracy’

A political rally held to protest the results of the 2020 presidential race descended into a riot on Wednesday afternoon, with hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump forcing their way into the Capitol building, where they smashed windows and occupied chambers for hours before being removed by law enforcement.

A number of statesmen from around the world, among them the head of the United Nations, responded to the events with shock, many condemning the violence while urging for calm in America’s capital city.

“Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on Twitter.

“[UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres] is saddened by today’s events in Washington,” a spokesman for the international body said, adding “In such circumstances, it is important that political leaders impress on their followers the need to refrain from violence, as well as to respect democratic processes and the rule of law.”

Indian PM Narendra Modi said he was “distressed to see news about rioting and violence in Washington, DC.”

“Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue. The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called the scenes of unrest a victory for “the enemies of democracy,” saying they would be “delighted at these terrible images from Washington, DC” while addressing the president and his backers:

“Very distressing scenes at the US Congress,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in his statement on Wednesday’s events. “We condemn these acts of violence and look forward to a peaceful transfer of Government to the newly elected administration in the great American democratic tradition.”

The outpouring of statements followed similar responses from leaders in the UK, France, NATO and Latin America, among others, earlier in the day, each condemning political violence in turn. In addition to a woman who was fatally shot by police as she attempted to enter the Senate chamber inside the Capitol, three others were killed in “medical emergencies” during the unrest, according to DC law enforcement. At least 14 officers suffered injuries as police made more than 50 arrests throughout the clashes, while a number of improvised explosives and other weapons were recovered from the area around the Capitol.

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