Millions Vote in Crucial Kenyan Elections
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 butchered 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.