Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, attacked the bus in northern Kenya at dawn on Saturday, singling out and killing 28 passengers who could not recite an Islamic creed and were assumed to be non-Muslims, Kenyan police said.
At least two people were killed in the al-Shabab attack, which occurred near the Somali border.
But the biggest attack was in April 2015, when group massacred 148 mostly Christian students at Garissa University College.
Local governor Ali Roba, speaking to Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation, praised his constituents for risking their own lives to protect their neighbors.
The bus was from travelling from the capital city, Nairobi, with 60 passengers when it was stopped at Papa City by a group of Islamic militants who shot the windscreen, witnesses said.
While negotiating the impasse, a lorry came up behind the bus and spooked the attackers who hid behind a nearby bush suspecting that it was police officers.
Al-Shabab has previously targeted Christians in a similar fashion. Owino did confirm the two deaths and added that four people were wounded in the initial attack.
Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabaab’s military spokesman, said the group had fired shots at the bus.
Mandera Deputy Commissioner Julius Otieno also confirmed the attack near Dabacity town in Mandera County.
One of the victims was shot dead after trying to run away from the militants after passengers had been forced off the bus, the employee told the BBC in Nairobi.
The Muslim passengers refused to do so and hid Christians behind bags.
A group of Muslim passengers shielded their Christian counterparts by refusing to split in groups as the militants ambushed the bus, according to eyewitnesses.
Mandera has experienced the brunt of the violence in the past year.
Al-Shabab has repeatedly struck Kenya, demanding the country withdraw from an African Union mission in neighboring Somalia, which is fighting the militants and supporting the government.
Kenya’s long northeastern border with Somalia is widely considered a security weak spot.