, GARISSA, Kenya, Nov 22 – Gunmen seized a bus in northeastern Kenya near the Somali border early Saturday and executed 28 non-Muslim passengers, in an ambush the police blamed on the Shabaab Islamic extremists.
The latest attack allegedly carried out by Islamists on Kenyan soil comes after a week in which police raids on mosques in the port city of Mombasa hiked simmering tensions in the troubled city.
“I can confirm… that 28 innocent travellers were brutally executed by the Shabaab,” regional police chief Noah Mwavinda told AFP, referring to the Somali militant group.
The gunmen ambushed the bus headed for the capital Nairobi a few kilometres after it left Mandera, a town that lies right on the border with Somalia in Kenya’s north easternmost corner.
Some 60 passengers on board were ordered off the vehicle, with the gunmen separating the travellers into groups of Muslims and non-Muslims.
The militants then boarded the bus again with the non-Muslims and tried to drive off, but the vehicle got stuck.
“So they executed their prisoners” before escaping back into Somalia, Mwavinda said.
Kenya’s Red Cross confirmed the death toll in a tweet after its team arrived at the scene.
The executions came after a week that saw one person shot dead and more than 350 people arrested as Kenyan security forces carried out raids on mosques in the port city of Mombasa, looking for arms and Shabaab sympathisers.
Police seized weapons and found black Islamist flags like those flown by the Shabaab in the raids.
Four people were stabbed to death in apparent revenge attacks on Monday, with gangs taking to the streets beating some and knifing others after the raids that raised tensions in a city hit by a string of bombings and shootings.