Written By Michael Maunda on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 | 11:37 PM

AT least 18 people, including 10 security officers, were killed in the Coast yesterday just before voting started at 6am.

The attacks on polling stations were suspected to be the work of the outlawed Mombasa Republican Council but they did not dampen the spirits of residents who still turned up to vote in large numbers.

Jubilee Election Results 2013
Police Inspector General David Kimaiyo quickly airlifted an extra 300 paramilitary personnel to the Coast. He flew to Mombasa and went straight to Miritini where one attack occurred and issued a stern warning.

“We have arrested several suspects who will appear in court shortly. Police officers are further directed to use their firearms as provided in law and ensure that no further loss of lives of police officers and civilians is experienced," he said.

"As much as we want arrests, people with ill motives and intentions to disrupt election must be stopped by all means. We are proud of our officers who lost their lives while on duty protecting innocent wananchi," Kimaiyo said.

MRC officials were unavailable for comment yesterday. Suspected MRC members targeted ambushed police near Miritini police station. They killed Changamwe OCPD Otieno Awour, the OCS, and two police officers.

One Ceska pistol snatched from the slain officers was recovered but another Ceska pistol and two G3 rifles are missing and believed to have been stolen by the attackers.

In a second attack in Kisauni Mishomoroni, a Sergeant from the Prisons department was killed and his AK 47 rifle stolen. Police killed two attackers.

In Kilifi, one Administration Police sergeant was killed and his G3 rifle stolen. In Chumani in Kilifi, a prison warder, a female police constable and a Kenya Forest Service ranger were killed and an AK 47 rifle and a G3 rifle stolen. Eleven suspects have so far been arrested.

According to Kimaiyo, police received reports about a planned attack in Corner Police area within Likoni and removed stones that had been used to block the road.

At around 11 pm, Changamwe police heard that over 200 suspected MRC members with red and blue ribbons armed with different weapons were going to attack a police station in Miritini.

As the OCPD and OCS were proceeding to the area, they fell into an ambush from both side of the road. Kimaiyo said seven suspected MRC members were killed in Changamwe, Kisauni and Kilifi districts during the attacks.

The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslim condemned the incidents as an "act of cowardice" and "sign of desperation."

"Kenyans have shown they want peace and not violence. We urge parents to ensure their sons are not recruited into the illegal group," Supkem spokesperson Faisal Abdul Gatibaru said.

"It's unfortunate that we have lost our officers in the line of duty but we are pursuing the attackers and have reinforced our security ,” said Coast provincial commissioner Samuel Kilele.

Kilifi South returning officer Aisha Abubakar said she had earlier informed the local police boss and intelligence officers of threats to IEBC officials.

She said that her team had been surrounded by armed men at the Chonyi polling station on Sunday which had forced her to relocate the tallying centre from Mtomondoni to KARI.

In Rabai, the chief's office at Kaloleni was also set ablaze and a house in Mishomoroni was burnt. Residents in Kadongo area in Mishomoroni said the gang of 100 youth started terrorizing them at 10 pm.

A man and his two sisters, who had just arrived home from a vigil in Tua Tugawe, sought refuge in a neighbor's house. They said they heard gunshots for several minutes.

"We were later rescued by the community policing team, who escorted us home. On the way there, l saw the body of one of the attackers. He had a headband, red and black ribbons around his ankles and other paraphernalia,” said Athmani Hamisi.

Mishomoroni village elder Joseph Kageha said over 40 armed people came to his house and tried to burn it with petrol. He said the men identified themselves as MRC and told him they had been hired to ensure no-one voted,

“I managed to raise the alarm and the Kisauni OCPD sent officers. It is when they responded that they were attacked by the MRC. We were locked inside the house,” said Kageha.

There was however a huge turnout in the entire county including Kombani, an MRC stronghold. Muslims for Human Rights has deployed over 100 local observers. Its executive director, Khalid Hussein condemned the killings.

Last Friday, detectives were dispatched to Mwaluphamba in Kwale county where over sixty suspected MRC members were spotted taking an oath in the forest by villagers.

Police have been monitoring activities at the various Kayas (sacred forests) which dot the north and south coast.

“We spotted the gang on Friday and we informed police officers from Kwale. There were at least four young men and a well known medicine man from the area as well as people from other regions,” said Mwaluphamba area chief John Katambo Voya.

When the police went to the forest, the group escaped leaving behind a slaughtered goat, an MRC flag, copies of the Koran and some maize flour.