Earlier this year, al-Shabaab militants raided the Garissa University campus in northeastern Kenya and killed at least 147 people. The terrorists mercilessly shoot students wherever they were to be found — sleeping in their beds, looking for water, standing in a morning prayer circle, even hiding in closets, under their beds and in toilets.
The massacre that took place inside the school that fateful day broke millions of heart across the world, and although it has been eight months since then, the fear of another similar tragedy is still alive inside the locals.
Therefore, when the 5,000 students at Strathmore University in Nairobi heard blasts and gunfire on Monday morning, they assumed the worst and ran for their lives. The heavily armed figures storming the campus made things even worse, causing mass panic where some students even jumped from the sixth floor of their classroom building in attempt to flee the school.
The chaos turned into a deadly stampede, but little did the students and faculty members know it was all a security drill. The armed men actually belonged to Kenyan counter-terror forces and although they were using real bullets, they were not going to shoot anyone.
Authorities tried to reach out via local radio stations, telling people “a terror drill [was] being conducted at Strathmore University.” The management at Strathmore University revealed that it was an “approved safety and security simulation drill” carried out to test evacuation procedures.
However, for many frightened and injured students, these announcements were a little too late, as one person was killed while 31 were injured while trying to flee what they feared another massacre.
“It was a mock exercise,” police commander Japheth Koome told Reuters. “We wanted to check on alertness of emergency services.”
Social media images from the incident show how students and faculty members tried to save their lives.
Strathmore Uni students teetering on the edge about to take a leap. it was all a drill. pic.twitter.com/O5bcmPEaHK— James Smart (@jamessmat) November 30, 2015
Injured Strathmore university student being aided by a good Samaritan pic.twitter.com/2IFdbiDfa2— daviskip™ (@daviskip) November 30, 2015
“This simulation was aimed at testing the preparedness of the university community and emergency team in the event of an attack,” the university management said in a statement. “Unfortunately some students and staff panicked and got injured.”
Moreover, the school has also agreed to pay for the medical treatment of anyone injured in the drill, as well as provide counseling.
Spent cartridges at Strathmore pic.twitter.com/5Ee9pLOo98— GIDI GIDI (@GidiOgidi) November 30, 2015
Reports of a "Security Drill" at strathmore with gunshots heard inside the school. We're unaware of what's happening pic.twitter.com/zpxCjCToFO— Pierre (@petersize10) November 30, 2015
Is this the purpose of a drill, to scare Strathmore students to death. Cops should tell us what they're covering up? pic.twitter.com/9kf8XMAtko— kisauti (@WaKimuyu) November 30, 2015
The terrorism threat is indeed real and Kenyan police were not in the wrong to conduct a mock exercise to monitor safety procedures, but only if they were mindful enough to inform the staff and students first hand, this tragedy would not have occurred.