Police officials murdered as Kenya takes to the polls
On Monday morning at least four police officers were murdered by a gang wielding machetes near Mumbasa in Kenya, according to a senior police official.
The officers were on patrol in the region of Changamwe, a few miles outside the city of Mumbasa, when they were reportedly attacked just hours before the polling stations opened.
The Kenyan authorities have deployed extra police in the run up to the election, in the hope that they could avoid a repeat of the shocking events following the country’s last election in 2007, when over 1000 people were killed.
A successful democratic process is seen as essential to restoring Kenya’s image in the international community, with its reputation taking a serious blow in the aftermath of the deaths in 2007.
“Our officers who were on night patrol were attacked by a gang of youths wielding machetes and as a result four of the officers were killed. Two among the dead are senior officers who were overseeing the patrol,” chief of police intelligence, Ambrose Munyasia, told Reuters.
He went on to say that he suspected the attackers of being members of the Mombasa Republican Council, but that was “yet to be confirmed”. The Mombasa Republican Council is a regional separatist group who believe that the coastal Mombasa region should be independent from the Kenyan state.
If the group are behind the attack it would be significant in that any unrest related to it would most likely be confined to the Mombasa region.
The post-election violence in 2007 was caused by rival loyalist groups of the electoral candidates who clashed over a contentious result, unrelated to the separatist ambitions of the Mombasa Republican Council.
The authorities will be hoping this is an isolated case, with millions expected to turn out to choose between presidential candidates Uhurra Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. Early anecdotal evidence suggests that the polling is going successfully in the rest of Kenya.