NAIROBI (Christian Examiner) – Al-Shabaab terrorists attacked a bus and taxi in Mandera, Kenya, Monday morning killing two and wounding three others, but the attack might have been far worse if Muslim passengers had not shielded the Christians on the bus.
According to Kenya's Daily Nation, Muslim passengers on the bus refused to separate themselves from Christian passengers, preventing a massacre like the one carried out by Al-Shabaab terrorists on Nov. 22 last year. In that attack, the terrorists stopped a bus bound for Nairobi, separated the Christians from other passengers and shot them. Twenty-eight people, most of them teachers, died.
Ali Roba, the governor of Mandera State, commended the Muslim passengers for refusing to leave the Christians to be slaughtered.
"They refused to separate from non-Muslims and told the attackers to kill all passengers or leave. That is why some locals were injured trying to protect non-Muslim passengers," Roba told the newspaper.
In another interview with the Kenya Star, Roba said the local Muslims "showed a sense of patriotism and belonging to each other" in their actions, a welcome sign after the violence many have experienced at the hands of the terror group, which recently pledged loyalty to the Islamic State. A spate of violence, including the recent murder of 36 non-Muslim quarry workers in the area, has caused most non-Muslims – especially school teachers – to leave the state.
The BBC put the number of teachers that had departed the state near 2,000.
According to reports from the scene, the bus was preparing to travel for the day when the militants attacked it at 7 a.m. In Mandera, travel is forbidden at night because of the roving bands of terrorists. The terrorists told the 62 passengers to get off the bus, but passengers began shouting at the gunmen to leave the "non-locals" alone. When a taxi approached, the militants became confused. One source said they assumed it was the police at first.
"The militants left in a hurry fearing retaliation by residents from nearby villages," Roba said.
Before they left, however, they asked the taxi driver to recite the Muslim confession or Shahada, "There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet," in Arabic. When the driver could not, they executed him. They also opened fire on a passenger who attempted to flee, killing him.
Al-Shabaab militants are now firmly in control of Southern Somalia and frequently pour into Northeastern Kenya to conduct raids. Mandera sits directly on the border with Somalia and is also bordered by Ethiopia. Kenyan troops have in the past entered Somalia to track and fight Al-Shabaab terrorists, but the terror group evades the army often.
According to the Daily Nation, elders from Wargadud in Somalia went to Kenya last week to ask the terrorists to leave Mandera within 36 hours, but they ignored the request. The Somali elders told the residents of the area it would be best if they armed and learned how to defend themselves.