MANDERA , Kenya, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- An Islamic terrorist group's attack on a bus in Kenya was foiled when passengers refused to be split into Muslim and Christian groups, a local leader said.
Two people died and three were injured in the ambush by al-Shabab in Kenya's northeastern Mandera County on Monday. The death toll could have been higher, Gov. Ali Roba said, but the 62 people on the bus refused to be separated between Muslim and non-Muslims.
"They refused to separate from non-Muslims and told the attackers to kill all passengers or leave. That is why some locals were injured trying to protect non-Muslim passengers," Roba said.
One of the survivors, Abdirashid Adan, told the Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation, "We were forced to stop after they shot at our bus. One of the bullets injured me in the buttocks. We alighted but one person attempted to run away and was shot dead. As the attackers started separating passengers according to their religions, we heard the sound of an oncoming lorry (a heavy-duty truck). They all ran back into the bush thinking it was police. After realizing it was not police, they stopped the lorry as we dashed back into the bus and sped off."
The majority of the area's population is Muslims of Somali descent. In 2014, an al-Shabab attack similar to Monday's killed 28 people and led to an exodus from the area of more than 2,000 teachers and health care workers. Al-Shabab attacks in Kenya began in 2011 after Kenyan troops were deployed in neighboring Somalia to defeat the militant group.