Police sources in Kenya say al-Shabab militants have hijacked a bus and killed 28 non-Muslims who were on board. The sources initially insisted on anonymity because of orders not to speak to the media.
Reports emerged from northeastern Kenya on Saturday that gunmen had executed 28 bus passengers. The news agency AFP quoted a regional police chief as blaming militants from neighboring Somalia.
"I can confirm ... that 28 innocent travelers were brutally executed by the Shebab," regional police chief Noah Mwavinda told AFP.
He said the gunmen forced the bus to stop and drove it to the side of the road, where they proceeded to kill passengers identified as non-Muslim.
Reuters, however, said the identity of the attackers was not clear.
It quoted a Twitter message from Kenya's interior ministry: "Bandits ambushed a bus from Mandera that was heading to Nairobi at dawn and killed 28 passengers of the 60 that were in the bus."
The two anonymous police sources told Associated Press that some 20 attackers had intercepted the bus and had used more sophisicated weaponry than police.
Police had waited for miltiary reinforcements before responding. Some of those killed were public servants who were heading to the capital for the Christmas vacation, the sources said.
Multiple attacks since 2011
Kenya has endured a series of gun and bomb attacks since 2011 when it sent troops into Somalia, where African Union forces recently helped reclaim territory for a UN-mandated interim government based in Mogadishu.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility last year for the September 2013 attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, where at least 67 people were killed.
Tensions rose in Kenya's coastal regions earlier this week as authorities closed five mosques, claiming they were being used to attract recruits to al- Shabab. More than 100 people were arrested on suspicion of undergoing militant training.
Police patrolled the port city of Mombasa on Friday after about 20 men had tried to force their way into the city's Swafaa mosque. Muslim youths demanded access for Friday prayers.
It had been shut down on Thursday after explosive were allegedly found inside.
ipj/nm (AFP, Reuters, AP)