- (Photo: Reuters/Marko Djurica)
Local police are reporting that a violent attack in Kenya on Monday, during the country's first presidential election since 2007, has resulted in the death of at least 12 people.
The attack reportedly occurred at the early hours of dawn in Nairobi and nearby Kilifi, as voters waited in long lines to cast their vote for one of eight presidential candidates, the top two being Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.
The group of attackers, numbering roughly 200 of the secessionist gang called the Mombasa Republican Council, reportedly arrived at the voting stations in Nairobi and Kilifi wielding machetes, guns, and bows and arrows.
The gang, which had reportedly threatened to carry out Election Day attacks, killed five officers at their first target in Nairobi, where one attacker was also killed, according to The Associated Press.
At the gang's second target in Kilifi, one police officer was killed along with five attackers, although the total number of deaths varies among reports.
Monday's incident comes five years after an attack that took place during the 2007 presidential election, during which outraged citizens disputing the election outcome sparked violence, resulting in the death of more than 1,000 people.
According to AP, 400 of the people killed in the 2007 conflict were shot by police officers, who claimed they were attempting to calm rowdy demonstrators.
"We are excited; this has been a long time coming," Mark Kamau, who lives in the capital of Nairobi, told CNN of Monday's Election Day.
"We are ready to show the world that this is not the Kenya they saw in 2007," Kamau added.
Police and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have agreed that Monday's attacks were caused by the Mombasa Republican Council, a separatist group advocating the secession of Mombasa, one of the largest cities in Kenya, from the rest of the country.
The African country did reportedly take a number of steps to avoid violence in this year's election, including the use of biometric voting kits, designed to prevent vote-rigging, which was one of the reasons behind the violent protests of 2007.
Additionally, the country has revamped its judicial system, and all presidential candidates have vowed to go through the judicial process regarding election disputes.
Along with the slayings which occurred on Monday, other reports stemming from local officials indicate that there were also explosions at three polling places in Mandera.
Another report by CNN indicates that at least 20 people were hospitalized after a polling station stampede in Kitengela, south of Nairobi.