Al Shabaab militants ambushed a bus in Kenya on Monday with a memorandum order to “single out Christians and to spray them with bullets”, but the M.O. did not proceed as planned.
Separated by different religious beliefs but in this terrifying terroristic moment, a group of Kenyan Muslims stood up to the attackers shielding the Christians and threatening that they are ready to die with the Christians.
Mostly women, the Muslim bus passengers thwarted the planned massacre as they protected the Christians. They told the Islamic militants “to kill them all or leave them alone”, according to witnesses.
Al-Shabaab is a Somali faction that pledges allegiance to ISIS. The group’s main aim is to sow discord in the border regions of Kenya and Somalia, where many ethnically Somali people are residing. This group is branded in the U.S. as a foreign terrorist organization.
The bus carrying both Christians and Muslims was heading to Mandera City, which is near the border of Somalia and Ethiopia. This land travel road is known for ambush, thus buses going into this route must have police escort. Although, the police escort’s car broke down still the bus continued on its journey according to Joseph Nkaissery, Kenya’s interior cabinet secretary.
Indeed, some hours later, the bus with more than 100 passengers on board was attacked by the Al – Shabaab militants – an extremist group that is working on turning Somalia into a fundamentalist Islamic state.
This is not the first attack that Al-Shabaab did to Kenya. The group had conducted a series of attacks since 2011 when Kenyan forces went into Somalia to combat the Somali extremists .
Brutal attacks on buses are being made regularly by the group, particularly in December, the time of the year, which is one of the busiest travel seasons in Kenya. It is the time that large numbers of people visit relatives for the holidays packed in buses and other public transport.
Last year in a bus ambush, 28 people were killed when they were not able to recite the Quran verses.
During the bus attack on Monday, the attackers ordered the Muslim passengers to come out of the bus and singled out the Christians from the group. However, the Muslims refused the division.
Immediately the Muslim women offered the Christian women their hijabs. Other Muslims hide the Christians under and behind bags in the bus, according to a passenger Abdiqafar Teno in an interview with CNN.
But a Christian man who tried to run away and captured was shot dead, while the truck driver, which was trailing the bus, was also killed, Teno said.
As the Muslims threatened to die together with the Christians, the gunmen left, but warned they would return.
Kenya’s interior cabinet secretary, Nkaissery told reporters that security forces were in “hot pursuit of the criminals.” He commended the actions of the Muslim passengers by saying “We are all Kenyans, we are not separated by religion,” he said. “We are one people as a nation. And this is a very good message from my brothers and sisters from the Muslim community.”