Sunday 19 November 2017

Muslims defy demands to give up Christians as bus is attacked by Kenyan extremists

People light candles during a street concert in Nairobi. Photo: Reuters/Noor Khamis
People light candles during a street concert in Nairobi. Photo: Reuters/Noor Khamis

Harriet Alexander in New York

A group of Muslims travelling on a bus in the north east of Kenya took a brave stand against gun-wielding Islamists, refusing to point out who on their bus were Christian, despite the terrorists threatening to kill them all.

The Somali gunmen sprayed the bus in Mandera with bullets on Monday, killing two people. Ten Al-Shabaab militants then boarded the bus and ordered the Muslim passengers to split away from the Christians.

But a passenger said he and fellow Muslims defied demands from the attackers to help identify Christians travelling with them.

"We even gave some non-Muslims our religious attire to wear in the bus so that they would not be identified easily. We stuck together tightly," said Abdi Mohamud Abdi.

"The militants threatened to shoot us but we still refused and protected our brothers and sisters.

"Finally they gave up and left but warned that they would be back."

A year ago, Al-Shabaab gunmen stormed a Nairobi-bound bus in the same area and killed 28 non-Muslim passengers.

Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabaab's military spokesman, said the group had fired shots at the bus.

"Some of the Christian enemies died and others were injured," he said.

The 2014 bus attack shocked Kenya and led to a shake-up of security ministers.

Since then, buses carrying passengers from Mandera have been given police escorts, but Kenya police spokesman Charles Owino said that had not happened in this case because the bus had bypassed a police roadblock.

Mr Owino said that in addition to the two deaths, four people were wounded.

Al-Shabaab has said it will continue its attacks on Kenya until Nairobi withdraws troops from an African Union force fighting the militants in Somalia.

It has also said northeastern Kenya should be part of Somalia.

Kenya's long north-eastern border with Somalia is widely considered a security weak spot.

Factors include poor co-ordination between security services, and a culture of corruption that allows anyone prepared to pay a bribe to pass unchallenged.

Meanwhile, an international human rights group has urged an investigation into Burundi's forces for alleged human rights violations, including extra-judicial executions, rape and looting during the deadliest day in the months of unrest over President Pierre Nkurunziza's extended tenure.

Amnesty International regional executive Director Muthoni Wanyeki said yesterday the security forces' violent tactics on December 11, in response to an armed attack of three military facilities, represented a dramatic escalation in the scale and intensity of previous operations.

She says men were dragged from their homes and shot at close range, while others were shot the instant they opened their doors.

Burundi's government has said its troops acted professionally.

Burundi has been hit by deadly unrest since April when Nkurunziza ran for and won re-election to a third term in office. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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