Nairobi, Nov 23: One gunman shot from the right, one from the left, each killing the non-Muslims lying in a line on the ground, growing closer and closer to Douglas Ochwodho, who was in the middle.
And then the shooting stopped. Apparently each gunman thought the other shot Ochwodho. He lay perfectly still until the 20 Islamic extremists left, and he appears to be the only survivor of those who had been selected for death.
Somalia's Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, attacked a bus in northern Kenya at dawn yesterday, singling out and killing 28 passengers who could not recite an Islamic creed and were assumed to be non-Muslims, Kenyan police said.
Those who could not say the Shahada, a tenet of the Muslim faith, were shot at close range, Ochwodho said. Nineteen men and nine women were killed in the bus attack, said Kenyan police chief David Kimaiyo.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the killings through its radio station in Somalia, saying it was in retaliation for raids by Kenyan security forces carried out earlier this week on four mosques at the Kenyan coast. Kenya's military said it responded to the killings with airstrikes later yesterday that destroyed the attackers' camp in Somalia and killed 45 rebels.
"The United States condemns in the strongest terms today's horrific attack in Kenya by the terrorist group al-Shabab against innocent civilians," said Bernadette Meehan, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council in Washington.
"The United States stands with our Kenyan partners in the effort to counter the threat of terrorism and affirms our ongoing commitment to working with all Kenyans to combat these atrocities," her statement said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the attack. The bus travelling to the capital Nairobi with 60 passengers was hijacked about 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the town of Mandera near Kenya's border with Somalia, said two police officers who insisted on anonymity because they were ordered not to speak to the press.
The attackers first tried to wave the bus down but it didn't stop so the gunmen sprayed it with bullets, said the police. When that didn't work they shot a rocket propelled grenade at it, the officers said.
The gunmen took control of the vehicle and forced it off the road where they ordered all the passengers out of the vehicle and separated those who appeared to be non-Muslims mostly non-Somalisa from the rest.
The survivor, Douglas Ochwodho, a non-Muslim head teacher of a private primary school in Mandera, said was travelling home for the Christmas vacation since school had closed.