A woman was killed and 30 people were injured at a university in Kenya after a simulated terrorist attack on the school caused students and staff to panic.
Shots were heard at Strathmore University in Nairobi around midday and word of an attack quickly spread on social media. Students could be seen climbing out of windows and hanging onto the side of a university building. One woman, a 33-year-old member of the university staff, died from head injuries after jumping from a third-floor window. Others injured themselves attempting to leap to safety; some were seen wading through a nearby stream to get away from the campus.
“We were not informed, we were not aware at all,” one hospitalized student told Capital FM Kenya. “We just heard gunshots and had to run for our dear lives.”
Real attacks in Kenya have increased since the country began sending military troops to Somalia to support the government against an al-Shabaab insurgency, and Kenya has been criticized for its poor preparation and coordination when it comes to attacks by the militant group.
Authorities reportedly ignored warnings of an attack in May on a university in northeast Kenya that left 148 students dead. Security forces also took hours to get to the site once the school was under siege. Human Rights Watch said in June that during a string of attacks on the Kenyan coast last year, security forces were slow to respond and left villages vulnerable even after the violence began.
The preparedness drill it sought to carry out today also drew criticism.
The university said in a statement that rubber bullets had been shot during the simulation, which was “aimed at testing the preparedness of the university community and emergency team.” The university said, ”We have started an intensive assessment of key lessons learnt during this simulation.”