Al-Shabab militants attacked a bus in Kenya on Monday but were thwarted by Muslims who protected Christians on board. Officials say the militants stopped a bus carrying more than 100 people from Nairobi to Mandera, near the border with Somalia and Ethiopia. Buses travel with police escorts because the route is so dangerous, but a police car accompanying the bus had broken down, Joseph Nkaissery, Kenya's interior Cabinet secretary, tells CNN. Witnesses say more than 10 militants were waiting in bushes a few hours down the road and sprayed the bus with bullets before boarding and asking Muslim passengers to separate from Christians. The Muslim passengers refused and hid Christians behind bags. "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," a Muslim passenger tells Reuters.
"They told them, 'If you want to kill us, then kill us. There are no Christians here,'" another passenger adds, noting a Christian man who tried to run away was shot and killed, along with the driver of a truck that came upon the scene. A police rep says four others were injured. The gunmen eventually left, telling passengers they would return, but security forces were in "hot pursuit of the criminals," Nkaissery says. "We are all Kenyans, we are not separated by religion," he adds. "We are one people as a nation. And this is a very good message from my brothers and sisters from the Muslim community." Mandera's governor tells the Daily Nation that "the locals showed a sense of patriotism and belonging to each other." The BBC notes that al-Shabab has carried out numerous attacks in Kenya recently, including two attacks on buses last year that left 64 dead. (Read more al-Shabab stories.)