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Bus driver: God saved us from attackers


By MANASE OTSIALO and LUCAS BARASA

The driver of the bus that was attacked by Al Shabaab militants in Mandera says it was by God’s miracle he and his passengers lived to tell the tale.

Mr Shukri Farah admitted that Muslims who were in the bus gave clothes to non-Muslims, preventing what could have been a massacre similar to the one in November last year when 28 passengers were killed.

Speaking by phone from Mandera Town on Tuesday, Mr Farah said he slowed down the bus belonging to Makkah Company when he approached a trench.

“The road at that place is bad and when I slowed down, three men in military uniform suddenly appeared from the bush,” Mr Farah said.

He added that he asked the conductor what KDF soldiers were doing there but before he got an answer, the men shot at the bus. He stopped the vehicle as he had been hit in his left leg.

“I alerted the passengers what was happening before the attackers got closer. We asked non-Muslims to cover their heads with their jackets as Muslim women gave clothes to girls and women,” he added.

NON-MUSLIMS

He said the bus was full and the non-Muslims were advised to hide under the seats or mingle with Muslims.

“After the passengers dressed like Muslims, it was difficult for the attackers to identify their targets. Fortunately, they did not get into the bus. I think it is because they were only four,” the driver said.

The vehicle had excess passengers because Mr Farah picked up others from a bus that had broken down along the way.

“It would be difficult for the men to screen all the passengers. Time was not on their side for they seemed to know that police or soldiers usually escort passenger vehicles,” he added.

Asked if Muslims shielded passengers of other faiths, he said: “These are bad people. One cannot dare negotiate with them. Muslim women gave their clothes to Christians and on alighting, the Christians stood in the middle of the crowd but nobody said anything to the attackers.”

He said the men had communication devices similar to those used by the military or police officers.

SHOT AND KILLED

“One of the men spoke on the radio when a lorry approached and a different group emerged from the bush to attack it,” he said.

He said a passenger who had run into the bush was killed when he returned and attempted to get into the bus.

“I think the terrorists hiding in the bushes chased him back since one of the four had a radio,” the driver added. “We were asked to get into the bus after they failed to identify any non-Muslims among us.”

Mr Farah’s conductor also suffered a bullet wound. The attackers also killed one person in the lorry when he failed to recite a verse in the Quran.

Speaking by phone from Garissa on Tuesday, Mandera County Commissioner Fredrick Shisia said the situation was back to normal.

The Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Secretary-General Adan Wachu condemned Monday’s attack and called on Kenyans to emulate Muslims in the bus who stood by Christian passengers.