Muslim Passengers Protect Christians From Al-Shabaab Bus Attack in Kenya
A group of Kenyan Muslims have been praised by President Kenyatta and international leaders after they protected Christian passengers from an Al-Shabaab bus attack on Monday.The group of mostly female Muslims told Al-Shabaab gunmen – who demanded they single out the Christians among their fellow passengers – told the militants they would have to kill everyone together or leave them all alone.
Christians passengers targeted
The militant group, which has ties to both Al-Qaeda and ISIS, attacked the passenger bus on its route towards Mandera on Monday. The journey is considered so high-risk that police escorts normally accompany buses along this route – but the police car broke down during this particular journey, leaving the bus to carry on alone.
A few hours after separating from its police escort the bus was attacked by militants targeting Christian passengers aboard the vehicle. The gunmen sprayed the bus with bullets, killing two in the initial attack, before demanding passengers revealed which of those on board were Christians.
Act of bravery, defiance
Despite the gunmen’s demands, Muslim passengers aboard the bus refused to reveal their Christian counterparts, insisting they would rather die together. The militants were told they would have to kill the entire group together or spare everyone.
The act of defiance comes after a turbulent month for Muslim and Christian communities around the world, following the terrorist attacks in Paris. However, life for Christians and Muslims in Kenya has been tough for many years now, since the Al-Shabaab started pummeling the country with large-scale attacks.
One of its most brutal attacks killed 150 students at Garissa University earlier this year – most of whom were Christians. The Islamist group regularly targets Christians and political figures associated with the US and its allies.
Previous attacks on buses in Kenya have killed scores of Christians and Muslim victims are regularly killed in spates of violence which not only claim lives, but also tarnishes their collective reputation.
However, the group of Muslims caught up in Monday’s bus attack had a clear message for the militants that were defaming their religion:
“We are all Kenyans, we are not separated by religion,” one passenger said. “We are one people as a nation. And this is a very good message from my brothers and sisters from the Muslim community.”