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Police issue Sh8m bounty on Mandera bus attack suspects, appeals for public help

By Cyrus Ombati | January 6th 2016

NAIROBI: Police are appealing to the public to help them arrest four Kenyans who are linked to the December attack on a bus in Mandera that killed two people.

A total bounty of Sh8 million- Sh2 million- on each of the four has been given out for anyone who will help in identifying and informing police on the whereabouts of the suspects who are believed to be followers of Al-Shabaab militant group.

They want the public to help them trace Mohamed Osman Aliow alias Issack Okolla from Elwak, Abdullahi Dimbil Ahmed, Mohamed Ahmed Farah and Abukar Mohamed Yunis, from Wajir.

National Police Service spokesman George Kinoti said they want locals of Mandera and Wajir Counties to help them identify the four.

"Following police investigations into the Makkah bus attack in December 2015, the police urge the public to provide information on the suspects who have been identified as the attackers,” said Kinoti.

He added they are believed to be hiding at the Mandera/Wajir border areas.

During the attack on December 20, a group of Muslims travelling on the bus protected Christian passengers by refusing to be split into groups.

Witnesses and authorities said militants who had taken control of a bus after spraying bullets at it tried to split Muslims from Christians but the former refused.

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They wanted to slaughter Christians.

Instead, the Muslims told the militants to kill them together or leave them alone, witnesses said.

Another witness said the Muslims lied to the militants that a police lorry was escorting the bus and that they would come under attack if they continued with their mission.

It was then that the militants abandoned their mission fearing a confrontation with security officials and saved the lives of many.

But they had killed a passenger who was on board the Makka bus as it raced to Mandera from Nairobi.

Another witness, Abdirahiman said Muslims in the bus removed their Muslim attires and handed them to the Christians who were present.

"The driver had tried to drive off but was forced to stop. We gave the Christians who were present our Muslim clothes to cover themselves as a way of ensuring none died in the bus," said the witness on the phone.

A similar attack on a bus in November 2014 left more than 30 people dead, which sparked an outrage.

The attack is the latest in the area. Last week, a police escort team engaged gunmen in a shootout after they had tried to hijack buses that were being escorted. The area is near Somalia where there are many Al-Shabaab militants.

In December the same group set up a landmine that hit and damaged a military lorry in the same area. Officials say there is growing number of militants near the border and have been calling for enhanced patrols by the military.

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