On Dec. 21, al-Shabaab ambushed a passenger bus that was heading to Mandera, a town in northeastern Kenya. The militants tried to use what has become a signature tactic of their Somali-based group: separating Muslims from Christians and killing the latter. This time, Muslim passengers refused to cooperate.
“We asked them to kill all of us or leave us alone,” Salah Farah, a Kenyan teacher who was on the bus, told the Daily Nation after the attack. “As we argued, they shot me and the boy.”
On Jan. 18, Farah, who spent the last month receiving treatment at Nairobi’s Kenyatta National Hospital, died from his injuries. The Kenyan police are helping to transport his body to Mandera, where he lived and worked as a deputy headmaster at a local school.
“He is a true hero,” Kenya’s inspector general of police, Joseph Boinnet, told local media. “The deceased died while trying to shield innocent Kenyans.”
Farah, who was Muslim, had said that he refused to sacrifice his fellow Christian passengers because he believes Muslims and non-Muslims alike should live peacefully together. On the bus that day, some of the Muslim passengers on board gave their head scarves to Christian passengers to help disguise them.
“We are brothers,” he told Voice of America earlier this month. “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.”
Despite Kenyan authorities’ efforts at thwarting al-Shabaab, the group remains a significant threat. Last week the Kenyan army suffered multiple fatalities in an attack by militants on one of its bases in Somalia. Kenya is engaged in an African Union-backed intervention there with the mission of defeating the Qaeda-affiliated group and securing the country for the UN-supported government.