A panicked student was killed and over 150 others hurt in a stampede on Sunday when an electrical blast sparked fears of a new Islamist attack on a Kenyan university campus.
Some students jumped from as high as the fifth floor of a hostel at the University of Nairobi campus after the pre-dawn explosion, vice-chancellor Peter Mbithi said.
“It was total chaos because we thought now it is our turn after Garissa,” student Michael Njuguna was quoted by Kenyan media as saying.
A shocked Kenya is on edge after the April 2 attack by Somalia’s Shebab insurgents on Garissa university that killed 148 people, almost all of them students.
Education Minister Jacob Kaimenyi said Sunday’s explosion occurred at around 5:30 am while students were sleeping on the university’s Kikuyu campus about 20 kilometres (12 miles) west of the capital.
“A power cable blew up outside the student hostel. The hostel itself was not affected, but the students thought it was an attack,” said Mbithi.
Student Spencer Kimani said he jumped out of a window, but only sustained minor injuries.
“The blast was so loud, I had to jump out of bed and run,” he said.
About 150 were injured, mostly lightly, while 20 remain in hospital for treatment.
“There is no cause for alarm but we can understand their fears after the recent incident,” Nairobi police chief Benson Kibue said, confirming that a power cable explosion was behind the incident.
The attack in Garissa, a town near the border with Somalia, was the deadliest on Kenyan soil since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi and followed the 2013 Westgate shopping mall massacre in the capital.
“We have put in place mechanisms to protect our institutions of higher learning and there shouldn’t be panic or fear around the country,” Vice President William Ruto said.