Millions of Kenyans poured into polling stations across the country on Monday in a crucial, anxiously awaited presidential election, and early reports said some violence erupted in the coastal region around Mombasa, recalling far greater bloodletting in the last national ballot five years ago. Across the land, the turnout appeared to be tremendous. Starting hours before dawn, lines of voters wrapped in blankets and heavy coats stretched for nearly a mile in some places. But in Mombasa, on the Indian Ocean, at least four police officers were killed with machetes in an overnight attack that authorities believe was carried out by the Mombasa Republican Council, a fringe separatist group that opposes the elections and believes Kenya’s coast should be a separate country. News reports put the death toll higher, with Reuters quoting senior police officials as saying nine security officers, two civilians and six attackers had died. Other reports put the tally at 12.
Some Western election observers in Mombasa, Kenya’s biggest coastal city, have pulled back to their hotels because of security concerns. In northeastern Kenya, near the border with Somalia, there was a small explosion at a polling station and a grenade was thrown into a police camp. Early reports indicated there were few, if any, casualties in the incidents.
Kenya’s top politicians are urging voters to remain calm and avoid the mayhem that erupted at the end of 2007 and early 2008 when a disputed election ignited ethnic grievances and set off clashes that killed more than 1,000 people.
“We must keep the peace,” said William Ruto, after voting Monday in his hometown, Eldoret. Mr. Ruto is running for deputy president and has been charged by the International Criminal Court with crimes against humanity connected to the violence in the last election.
Full Article: Millions Vote in Crucial Kenyan Elections – NYTimes.com.