An attack by suspected al-Shabaab militants has left three people dead in Kenya. The heavily armed terrorists struck a bus that was travelling from Mandera to Nairobi.
According to reports, two Christians, Peter Kilonzo Musili and Kevin Onyango, were killed after failing to recite the Islamic statement of faith.
A Muslim man was also killed after attempting to protect the Christians as they were being separated out from the group.
A security officer based in northeastern Kenya confirmed the attack, telling International Christian Concern (ICC): "The incident happened on the morning of February 19 at Banisa, Mandera County, where a group of armed al-Shabaab members ambushed a bus ferrying 47 passengers to Nairobi. They sprayed it with bullets and deflated the tires in order to halt it and pick Christians from the bus. The efforts of the driver to escape from their trap did not bear fruit. He was also injured during the attack. Three people were killed and two others injured."
The attack bore similarities to an incident that took place in December last year, during which 11 Christians travelling on a bus were shot dead by Islamic militants.
A local Mandera-based evangelist told ICC that the recent attack is simply a continuation of what is becoming normal for the region: "We are seeing a return of planned violent attacks against Christians in northeastern Kenya and the coastal region. Hostility against Christians has been escalating in Mandera at an alarming rate and is being carried out by al-Shabaab members.
"They target public service vehicles, where they separate Christians from Muslims and execute them. If not vehicles, they attack residential places and kill non-local Christian people.
"We are, however, proud of the few courageous Muslims who stand up and defend Christians. In this bus attack, one of them was killed for trying to stop the gunmen from shooting the Christians who were not able to say the Islamic prayer."
Kenya has been suffering from a spate of attacks at the hands of Islamic militants in recent times. Just last month, three foreign teachers were killed at Kamuthe Primary School in Garissa while they lay asleep in the school's residential area. As a result, the Teachers' Service Commission (TSC) has transferred all non-local teachers away from the danger zones.
Now, many are calling on the authorities to do more to protect those who travel on buses.
"Buses in Kenya have become one of the main targets for al-Shabaab," said Nathan Johnson, ICC's regional manager for Africa. "There have already been at least four similar attacks this year alone. In each one, Christian passengers are separated from those who are Muslim. They are then slaughtered like animals.
"What is encouraging to see is that there have also been a number of brave Muslims who have continued to try and protect the Christians. Those who do this must be lifted up as heroes. I am sad that Mr. Abinoor was killed, but he is a hero for trying to save others' lives, and he needs to be applauded as such."