A security drill at a Nairobi university has led to the death of a staff member after many panicked when security forces used what students thought was live ammunition to stage a pretend attack on the school.
Social media went into overdrive on Monday afternoon as security forces simulated an attack against Strathmore University’s Madaraka campus in the Kenyan capital – with many believing the incident was real.
The university confirmed to Al Jazeera that a 33-year-old staff member died “from severe head injuries”.
“Efforts to resuscitate her failed, and she succumbed to the injuries,” a university spokeswoman said, adding that 31 people had been taken to three area hospitals.
It was not immediately clear what led to the staff member’s death, but local media reported that a number people jumped from the third storey of a building to flee “attackers” during the drill, while photographs showed others perched on the ledges of a building.
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
A number of other students from Strathmore were injured on Monday when they attempted to flee from the school.
The drill comes just months after the al-Shabab armed group staged an attack against Garissa University in Kenya’s east, killing at least 147 students.
Students reported hearing a number of gunshots during the incident, but it is not known whether the gunshots were from live ammunition or blanks.
In a statement provided to Al Jazeera, the university said that prior training had been provided to teams of security marshals, comprising students and staff.
“This simulation was aimed at testing the preparedness of the university community and emergency team in the event of an attack,” the statement said.
“Unfortunately some students and staff panicked and got injured. The university has assured all the students, parents and stakeholders that the situation is under control and normal operations have resumed.”
The statement added that the university started an “intensive assessment of key lessons learned during this simulation” and said that the medical expenses of those injured would be catered for.
Students and others in Kenya, however, voiced their anger on Twitter, saying that the university had failed to provide adequate warning.
“It’s terrifying when you see your fellow classmates jumping from 3rd floor and there is nothing you can do,” one user wrote.
“That was not a drill, that was a terror attack at #Strathmore. A terror attack carried out by Strathmore University upon it’s students,” wrote another.
With reporting by Mark Worley in Doha