Douglas Ochwodho was travelling home for the Christmas holidays when his bus was attacked by religious terrorists
Douglas Ochwodho was travelling home for the Christmas holidays when his bus was attacked by religious terrorists INM

Teacher plays dead to escape slaughter by Islamic extremists

A PRIMARY school head teacher has revealed how he played dead to survive a massacre in Kenya after Islamist terrorists lined up 28 bus passengers on the ground and shot them dead for not being able to recite the Koran.

Douglas Ochwodho, a non-Muslim, was ordered off the bus with 28 other mostly non-Somali passengers at dawn yesterday. He said that those who did not look Somali or could not recite an Islamic creed were separated from the other passengers.

The two gunmen then began the killing spree; one from the left and one from the right until they reached Mr Ochwodho, who was lying perfectly still.

The killers were then seemingly confused as to whether either of them had fired a fatal shot and left.

After the 20 Islamists had fled the scene, the head teacher ran to the road and flagged down a truck to take him back to nearby Mandera, the town where his school is located, to raise the alarm.

The head teacher said he had been travelling home after his private primary school had closed for the Christmas holidays. He was speaking from a hospital where he is being treated for shock.

Mr Ochwodho brother's said after the attack: "They were shooting all the people and the blood from the people beside my brother covered him.

"Then they reached him and they thought they had already killed him and then he kept lying there, pretending he was dead."

Before the attack the bus had been travelling to Nairobi and was hijacked about 31 miles from the border with Somalia, by the country's notorious al-Shabaab terrorist group.

The vehicle, carrying 60 passengers, initially refused to stop when flagged down, so the attackers peppered the vehicle with bullets, but had to resort to firing a rocket-propelled grenade before they could take control of the bus and force it off the main road.

28 travellers who did not look Somali, or were unable to recite the Shahada, an Islamic creed, were made to lie on the ground where they were murdered, because it was assumed they were not Muslims, police said. Nineteen men and nine women were killed.

Of the 28 dead, 17 were teachers according to police.

Kenya has been hit by a wave of attacks by the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab group, after it sent troops to Somalia in October 2011.

Authorities said there have been 153 attacks since then, including the attack on the upmarket Westgate mall in Nairobi in September 2013, in which 67 people were killed.

In a report into the attacks, published in September, the International Crisis Group said al-Shabaab is becoming "more entrenched and a graver threat to Kenya".

Last week four mosques on the Kenyan coast were shut down after police said they found explosives and a gun when they raided the places of worship.