The attack on a bus in Mandera county of Kenya at the weekend in which 28 non-Muslims were selectively killed was a revenge mission, the al-Shabab group of Somalia has said.
Al-Shabab who claimed responsibility for the Saturday dawn attack in a statement said it was revenge for raids carried out by Kenyan security forces on mosques in the coastal city of Mombasa.
Kenyan police said they found explosives and arrested more than 150 people in those mosque raids.
“They were attacked in places of worship and in their homes. They invaded the Muslim land of Somalia … It’s our duty to take revenge.””What happened in Mandera today we did in revenge for what the non-believer government has done to innocent Muslims,” Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, a spokesman for the group, said.
Members of Somalia’s al-Shabab armed group hijacked a bus in Kenya with 60 passengers before 6 am on Saturday and killed 28 non-Muslims on board after singling them out from the rest of the passengers.
Two police officers, who sought anonymity, said that the bus was travelling to the capital Nairobi with 60 passengers when it was hijacked 50km from the town of Mandera near Kenya’s border with Somalia.
The Kenya Interior ministry confirmed the attack, saying via its official Twitter handle: “Security agencies are in pursuit of the criminal gang. We’ll give a comprehensive update once preliminary reports are out.”
According to the Police the attack was carried out by “about 100 gunmen who commandeered” the bus and forced the passengers out.
The passengers were then separated into groups according to their religion. Non-Muslims, the reporter said, were executed and Muslims were freed. The assailants attempted to take the bus but it got stuck in mud on the unpaved road.
“We killed the non-believers,” Rage said, confirming that they had split people up. “We did not touch the Muslims because they’re the ones we’re fighting for. The Muslims in Mandera and the Muslims in Somalia are the same to us.”
Among those killed were two security officers and teachers who were travelling to their home towns on holiday.
Mandera County Governor Ali Ibrahim Roba said on Twitter: “The inhumane butchering of innocent Kenyans by terrorists must get a very firm response from our national security team.”
Kenyan authorities have blamed al-Shabab for a wave of deadly attacks across the nation. Kenya sent troops to Somalia in 2011 after raids on its coastal towns blamed on al-Shabab and has since seen a surge in lethal attacks.
The Somali group has also been blamed for the September 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, which killed 77 people.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has condemned Saturday’s religiously motivated killings by al-Shabab as aimed at launching a religious war in Kenya that would not succeeded because prominent Muslim leaders in Kenya have condemned the killings.