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Mock attack on Kenyan university causes panic, ends in death

Undisclosed security drill meant to test school's preparedness for an attack by Al-Shabab erupts in chaos

Kenyan security forces launched a mock attack on a Nairobi university on Monday, causing widespread panic that killed one staff member and injured at least two students.

Without notice to students at Strathmore University, security forces simulated an attack on the school’s Madaraka campus. Believing the attack and ammunition used to be real, students began to flee and chaos ensued.

The university confirmed to Al Jazeera that a 33-year-old university staff member died "from severe head injuries" incurred during the melee.

It was not immediately clear what led to the staff member's death, but local media reported that a number of people jumped from the third story of a building to flee the false attackers, while photographs showed others perched on the ledges of a building.

At least two other students were also injured during the incident. The Kenyan Red Cross confirmed that two patients were hospitalized. Their condition is unknown, but Agence France-Press reported that at least one of the wounded is in critical condition. 

The mock drill came just months after Al-Shabab laid siege to Garissa University in Kenya's east, killing 148 people. That attack followed a deadly 2013 assault on Westgate mall in Nairobi, also by the armed group. The attacks were part of a string of other assaults on Nairobi and Kenya in general by the group.

In a statement provided to Al Jazeera, Strathmore University said that prior training on how to act in the event of a real attack had been provided to teams of security marshals, comprising staff and students.

"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 covered.

Students and others in Kenya, however, voiced their outrage on social media, saying that the university had failed to provide adequate warning and was responsible for the fatality and injuries.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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