Kenyan university says 37 injured after security drill sparks panic

2015-12-01 08:44
An injured student is brought to the casualty room in Nairobi west hospital after gunshots were heard at Strathmore University, Nairobi. (John Muchucha, AFP)

An injured student is brought to the casualty room in Nairobi west hospital after gunshots were heard at Strathmore University, Nairobi. (John Muchucha, AFP)

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Nairobi - One member of staff died and 37 people were injured Monday after a security drill at a Nairobi university was mistaken for a real attack, sparking scenes of panic, the university said.

A 33-year-old female employee "has died from severe head injuries", said Strathmore University's communications director Betty Ngala.

Police said they were merely carrying out a security exercise, but images showed terrified students standing on window ledges at the university, which is close to the centre of the Kenyan capital.

Ngala said "around 15" people needed hospital treatment after the incident, while 22 others who were hurt less seriously.

She said most of those injured suffered broken bones after "jumping from high floors".

Students later said the rush to escape to safety came as they were startled by the sound of gunfire.

In a statement, the university said the exercise on campus was aimed at "aimed at testing the preparedness of the university community and emergency team in the event of an attack".

Run away

"Unfortunately some students and staff panicked," it added.

Nairobi police chief Japheth Koome said all the proper procedures were followed for Monday's drill.

The students' fearful response comes with the country still reeling from a number of high-profile attacks claimed by Somali-led, al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab insurgents.

They include an April massacre at Garissa university in which 148 people were killed, and a 2013 assault on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall that killed 67.

"After what we saw in Garissa and Westgate I couldn't waste a minute, I jumped down and the next thing, I just realised, I can't move because I broke my leg," an unnamed student told Capital FM.

Another student, Joseph, was quoted as saying by the radio station: "It is very wrong that they didn't tell us. After hearing gunshots I had to run out because there were guys who were dressed like al-Shabaab, like those people we saw in Westgate and we had to run away."

Dr Evans Mwendwa at Nairobi West Hospital told Capital FM radio that at least two people were seriously injured in the panic.

"Two of them are in critical condition, 14 are stable, they mostly sustained fractures, others have head injuries," he said.

Read more on:    al-shabaab  |  kenya  |  east africa  |  security

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