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A member of the Luo ethnic group is seen as he holds a machete near the town of Muhoroni in Kisumu County, Kenya October 29, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

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By Baz Ratner and Maggie Fick

KOGUTA/KISUMU, Kenya (Reuters) - The body of an elderly man was discovered in a sugarcane field near a village in western Kenya on Sunday, the day after high-level officials visited the area in an attempt to calm ethnic tensions inflamed by the repeat presidential election.

The body of the 60-year-old man had three arrows in its back and severe head wounds, a Reuters witness in the village of Koguta said.

The motive and perpetrators for the killing were unclear, but it came a day after villagers from the Luo and Kalenjin communities armed themselves against each other. Locals warned the death of the Luo man could spark tit-for-tat violence.

"There's a desire for revenge by the Luo community, I'm trying to tell them to stay calm, but they are so bitter and angry," Gordon Onyango, 32, a Luo, said.

The Luo community largely boycotted this Thursday's presidential election, which was supposed to again pit opposition leader Raila Odinga, a Luo, against President Uhuru Kenyatta, a Kikuyu with a Kalenjin deputy president.

The Supreme Court ordered the repeat poll after it nullified Kenyatta's win in an August election on procedural grounds.

But Odinga withdrew from the re-rerun, saying it would not be fair. In his strongholds in the west, an area that has long felt excluded from political and economic power, protesters prevented polling stations from opening in four counties.

Across Kenya, about 10 percent of polling stations were unable to open, although there were no problems in Kenyatta's areas. Turnout plummeted from 80 percent in August to about 35 percent, undercutting Kenyata's hopes for a decisive mandate for a second term.

In some parts of the country, such as Koguta in Kisumu county, the protests damaged relations with other communities who wanted to vote for Kenyatta.

That anger risks igniting ethnic violence, which killed around 1,200 people after a disputed 2007 presidential vote, but which has been largely absent from this election so far.

At least 51 people have been killed in political violence since August, but most deaths have occurred in clashes between protesters and police.

Police, although stationed only 400 meters from where the body was discovered, declined to visit the scene for several hours until reinforcements arrived.

Police and county governors did not answer calls from Reuters, but Julius Genga, a county legislator, said by phone that he was driving to the scene.

"We want the police to be deployed to try to restore calm because after the death of this man, tension is boiling up and we don't want it to escalate it to an unmanageable levels," he said.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alison Williams)

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