At least 28 people were killed after suspected Al-Shabaab militants attacked a Nairobi-bound bus in Mandera.
Confirming the 5:30am attack, Mandera East deputy County Commissioner Elvis Korir said initial reports indicated that about a 100 armed militia stopped the bus and ordered everyone out.
He said the attack happened as the bus â€” from Makkah Travels firm â€” climbed the hills of the notorious Omar Jillo area in Arabiya Ward, Mandera East Sub-county.
â€œWe are told a hundred armed men stopped the bus just after it left Arabiya area and all the passengers were asked to come down. They were then divided into two groups, of Somali and non-Somali,â€ said Mr Korir.
He said the non-Somali group was sprayed with bullets as the other group watched in disbelief.
â€œWe are told more than twenty-eight people have been killed and many others injured but we are yet to know the exact happening since we are planning to dispatch a team of security personnel to the scene,â€ he said.
Relatives of passengers believed to have travelled in the bus that was attacked milled outside the Makkah Travels offices in Mandera Town.
Records at the office indicated that 59 passengers were booked to travel to Nairobi.
Mr Korir said arrangements were underway to have the bodies brought to Mandera General Hospital, 30 kilometres away from the scene of the attack.
Speaking as he dispatched the police to the scene, Mandera County Police Commander, Noah Mwivanda, said the militia asked everyone on board to recite Islamic verses and those who failed were shot dead.
â€œWe have been communicating to two young ladies who managed to escape. They said, from their hiding, that four police officers are among the dead but we are yet to confirm because some officers had just left for December holidays,â€ said Mr Mwivanda.
Mr Mwivanda said there were plans for an aerial surveillance of the area before the security team leaves for rescue.
He said this was because a similar attack late last year at the area was used as a trap, in which eight police officers were killed.
We are told these people are well armed and we canâ€™t just go like that since it could be a trap, just like in the past, said Mr Mwivanda.
PRONE TO ATTACKS
Abdullahi Abdirahman, the Arabiya Ward Representative, also confirmed the attack, noting that the place has been prone to attacks.
“This place has been prone to attacks, this is not the first time the government has totally ignored us, and you can now see the how many innocent precious lives have been lost,” he said.