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Muslims Protect Christians During Deadly al Shabab Attack on Bus

MOMBASA, Kenya — Islamist militants sprayed a bus with bullets on Monday, but a passenger said he and fellow Muslims defied demands from the attackers to help identify Christians traveling with them.

Two people were killed in the attack which took place in Mandera, in northeast Kenya.

Abdi Mohamud Abdi, a Muslim who was among the passengers, told Reuters that more than 10 militants with Somalia-based al Shabab boarded the bus and ordered the Muslim passengers to split away from the Christians, but they refused.

"We even gave some non-Muslims our religious attire to wear in the bus so that they would not be identified easily," Abdi said. "We stuck together tightly."

He added: "The militants threatened to shoot us but we still refused and protected our brothers and sisters. Finally they gave up and left but warned that they would be back."

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In previous attacks, al Shabab has often killed both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Julius Otieno, the deputy county commissioner, confirmed the account, saying that the militants "were trying to identify who were Muslims and who were not," and that the Muslim passengers had refused to help.

The militants then fled the scene, both men said.

Al Shabab has said it will continue its attacks on Kenya until Nairobi withdraws troops from an African Union force fighting the militants in Somalia. It has also said northeastern Kenya should be part of Somalia.