Let us live together peacefully-Mandera bus attack victim

Let us live together peacefully-Mandera bus attack victim

A few days before Christmas, Al Shaabab militants ambushed a bus traveling in Mandera, near the Somalia border. The gunmen demanded the passengers divide themselves between Christians and Muslims. They refused. Salah Sabdow Farah was shot on that bus.

Farah, a 34-year-old teacher and deputy headmaster at a northeastern Kenya primary school, was headed home to the town of Mandera after completing a training program in Masaai Mara, in the southwestern part of the country.

He started his journey by bus Dec. 20. The next day, gunmen attacked.

After shooting at the bus, the militants demanded passengers disembark and divide themselves by religion.

“We were told to get down,” Farah said. “We refused. When we refused, they started shooting. So starting that time when they started shooting, we went down, everybody went down in panic. We went down, then we were taken somewhere in a field. We were told to separate, the Christians this side, the Muslims, this side. In the process of people now moving, we had already given the girls some hijab Muslims, that attire for the Muslims, so we gave them.”

In giving headscarves to Christian women on the bus, passengers no doubt remembered a similar attack a year earlier, in which Al Shabaab gunmen killed 28 non-Muslims traveling by bus from Mandera to Nairobi.

‘We are brothers’

Farah and his fellow passengers had had enough. They refused the orders.

“And then, at that moment, when we were told to separate, we refused,” he said. “That is the time that the bullet got me, from somewhere far. So it hit me in the hip.”

When the ordeal was over, he was taken to Mandera hospital, then flown to Nairobi’s Kenyatta National Hospital for more intensive medical care.

Islam is a religion of peace, Farah says, and Muslims and Christians are neighbors.

“People should live peacefully together,” he said. “We are brothers. It’s only the religion that is the difference, so I ask my brother Muslims to take care of the Christians so that the Christians also take care of us. … and let us help one another and let us live together peacefully.”

Another gunshot victim is also recuperating at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi. Two others were killed.

On Wednesday, police released the names of four suspects in the attack, appealing to the public for help and offering a reward for information leading to their arrests.

As for Farah, he says he has taken comfort in all the good wishes he has received during his hospital stay.

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