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Saturday, June 24, 2017

One dead, 30 injured in Strathmore University terror drill

Students search for their belongings that were misplaced during a security exercise at Strathmore University in Kenya's capital Nairobi, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Students search for their belongings that were misplaced during a security exercise at Strathmore University in Kenya's capital Nairobi, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

One woman died and about 30 people were injured, some critically when a terror attack drill at Strathmore University in Nairobi caused panic among hundreds of students and staff.

"We can confirm we have one fatality this evening. One staff member by name Esther Kidambi, age 33 years, who has died from severe injuries," said a statement from the university communication director Betty Ngala.

Kindambi is said to have jumped from the 3rd floor of the building.

Four students were by last evening at the Intensive Care Unit some with broken legs.

The university's deputy vice-chancellor George Njenga said out of the four, two were at the Nairobi West Hospital, one at Gertrude Hospital and another at the Nairobi Hospital.

Sixteen others were admitted at the general ward at the Nairobi West Hospital.

Among the injured was a professor, who is said to have jumped from fourth floor.

Nairobi West Hospital emergency admission doctor Evans Mwenda told the Star 30 patients were received at the hospital.

Among those admitted was a pregnant woman. The unborn child was said to be in good condition.

During the noon drill, a member of the security personnel, shot in the air leading to a stampede.

Panicked students and workers scampered for safety, with some jumping through the windows and others attempting to cross over the swollen Mbagathi River as gunshots rent the air.

The university’s communication director Betty Ngala told the Star only rubber bullets were used during the drill.

She said 10 to 15 students were injured and rushed to Nairobi West Hospital and Strathmore medical centre.

“This simulation was aimed at testing the preparedness of the university community and emergency team in the event of an attack,” Ngala said.

She said the drill was conducted in liaison with Lang’ata OCPD, with ambulances, fire brigade and trained security marshals at hand to rescue and assist casualties.

Ngala said the university has started an intensive assessment of key lessons learnt during the drill and will be revealed to the authorities.

"It was a mock exercise. We wanted to check on alertness of emergency services," police commander Japheth Koome said on the phone.

Koome said the university was testing if their "emergency providers are functioning" and how much time the response team can take to respond to such cases.

Students, who talked to the Star, said they were scared when they heard gunshots in different parts of the college.

"I ran into a classroom, but the gunshots still intensified, so I jumped through the window and saw some of my colleagues also trying to jump in the same manner," a student said.

Another said after he had the gunshots, he called his parents and told them "our school is under attack."

Several universities have carried out security drills after al Shabaab militants attacked Garissa University College on April 2 and killed 148 people.

The latest security drill was carried out at Kenyatta University Meru campus, where six students were injured and admitted at the Meru Level 5 Hospital.

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