Kenya police blame university for failed 'terror drill'

Police say university should have gained permission from "highest" security authorities, after one died in mock attack.

    Kenya police blame university for failed 'terror drill'
    The drill came just months after fighters from the Somali al-Shabab armed group attacked Garissa University [Thomas Mukoya/Reuters]

    Kenyan police have blamed a Nairobi university for failing to gain the appropriate authorisation from authorities prior to holding a simulated "terror" drill that led to the death of a staff member.

    Strathmore University apologised "unreservedly" on Tuesday for the incident a day earlier, where local police helped the school test its emergency procedures by staging a mock attack on the school.

    The simulated attack, which included the use of gunshots, caused students and staff to panic and attempt to flee from the university campus. A significant number of people jumped from the windows of higher floors in a university building, with many breaking limbs in the process.

    A 33-year-old staff member died from severe head injuries she sustained during the incident, while more than 30 others were hospitalised.

    Featured Documentary - Kenya's Enemy Within

    Despite local police being involved in the anti-terror exercise, Kenyan Police Inspector General Joseph Boinnet issued a statement on Tuesday saying that drills like that conducted at Strathmore must "follow protocol on modalities of authorisation".

    "Though we know that it was well-intentioned, the ordinary drill is aimed at disaster preperaredness and not carelessly allowing opportunities for actual disaster, as we have witnessed in this particular case," Boinnet said.

    "The level of alertness is so high in the country following existing terror threats that activities of this nature calling for rapid deployment and mobilisation of specialised security units must only be authorised and be coordinated by the highest security office in the country.

    "Investigations are under way to establish the circumstances in which the exercise went wrong resulting into death and injuries sustained."

    The security drill came just months after fighters from the Somali al-Shabab armed group killed at least 148 people in an attack at a university in Garissa, in Kenya's east. It also comes a little over two years after the armed group killed 67 during a siege at Nairobi's Westgate Mall.

    Police said universities must 'follow protocol on modalities of authorisation' prior to holding drills [EPA]

    Al Jazeera has submitted a number of questions to Strathmore University, asking who signed off on Monday's drill, which police forces were involved and whether live ammunition was used. The questions had not been answered as of late on Tuesday night.

    In a statement released earlier on Tuesday, the university's Vice Chancellor John Odhiambo reiterated that counselling would be provided to students and staff - and that those injured would have their medical bills paid for.

    "On behalf of the Strathmore University Management Board, I offer an unreserved apology to every student, parent, family, colleague and stakeholder for the unfortunate outcome of the security drill," Odhiambo said.

    "We particularly offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Esther Kidambi, the member of staff we lost as a consequence of this security drill. We empathise with each and every student, parent, family, colleague and stakeholder who suffered injuries, trauma and inconveniences."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Why America's Russia hysteria is dangerous

    Why America's Russia hysteria is dangerous

    The US exaggerating and obsessing about foreign threats seems quite similar to what is happening in Russia.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months