IN APRIL of this year, following the dreadful attack by Islamist militant group al-Shabab on Garissa University College in north-eastern Kenya, the Kenyan government instructed the country’s higher education institutions to provide training to teach students how to respond in the event of a terror attack.
On November 30, however things went disastrously wrong when authorities at Strathmore University in Nairobi decided to hold their own terror drill but apparently didn’t advise their students of their intentions so that when gunfire was heard on the campus, whilst some trained officers attempted to put agreed procedures into place, the majority of students panicked, fearing that this was a genuine attack.
The majority who were injured hurt themselves by jumping out of windows whilst one woman, identified as staff member Esther Kidemba died from severe head injuries.
There is some confusion as to whether the proper authorities had also been made aware of the intended drill and it seems that it is more by luck than judgement that armed officers did not rush to the scene ready to enter into an exchange of fire. There are reports however that the University had posted an announcement on its Facebook page on the previous day.
Police spokesman Mr Charles Owino is reported as saying during a press conference at the university “Following Monday’s incident in this university we know that it was well intentioned as an ordinary drill is aimed at disaster preparedness and not carelessly allowing opportunities for actual disaster as we have witnessed in this particular case. It should be a highly professional activity and must follow on modalities of authorisation,”
The university has said it will cover the medical costs of those injured as a result of the exercise and the whole matter will be investigated thoroughly.