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Kenya: Four Police Killed As Key Vote Starts
Violence has broken out in Kenya's coastal and northern regions as polls open in an election billed as the country's most important in 50 years.
At least four police officers were killed in a pre-dawn attack in Mombasa, local media reports said.
The ambush appears to have been launched by the Mombasa Revolutionary Council, a separatist group that previously threatened to boycott the polls and stands accused of orchestrating sporadic attacks against police officers in the past.
In another incident in the northern town of Garissa, close to the Somali border, one government official was reported dead after he was shot by gunmen. Another person was said to be seriously injured in the attack.
Both regions are considered hotspots for election-related violence.
A car belonging to a former MP was also torched this morning over claims of vote-buying in western Kenya, according to Citizen TV.
Voting in Nairobi, the nation's capital, has so far been peaceful.
Thousands of voters arrived as early as 2am to claim their place in line this morning, with some queues extending for half a kilometre.
But police cautioned yesterday that attacks were being planned in Nairobi and in the western city of Kisumu.
In a news conference on Sunday, police spokesman Charles Owino said gangs were planning to impersonate police officers in order to intimidate voters in Nairobi's informal settlements.
"Any person harassing you is not a policeman, he is a criminal," Mr Owino warned voters.
He insisted that Kenya Police Service had "provided an enabling environment" for peaceful elections. Some 99,000 police officers have been dispatched across the nation to ensure security at the polls.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chair, Isaac Hassan, also said yesterday that he expected polling to go smoothly.
Controversy surrounding the candidacy of Uhuru Kenyatta - wanted by the international criminal court for crimes against humanity stemming from his alleged role in country's bloody poll in 2007 and 2008 - has at times overshadowed this election campaign.
But in their final political rallies on Saturday, Mr Kenyatta and his main rival for the presidency, Raila Odinga, both called for peace and said they would accept the results of Monday's election.
Kenya has implemented a number of reforms since the last vote, including a new progressive constitution. A peaceful election could cement Kenya's position as a growing regional economic and political powerhouse.