UoN students tell of brush with death at varsity hostels

A Red Cross counsellor consoles a woman who lost a loved one at the dusitD2 Hotel attack last week. [Samson Wire]
“Sometimes death just calls you,” a second-year student at the University of Nairobi said as she narrated her experience in last Tuesday’s terror attack in Nairobi.

The student, who preferred anonymity because her parents had warned her against returning to the hostels on Riverside Drive, said she was still in shock, just like dozens of fellow students at Chiromo campus.

“I was in the hostel all day on Tuesday. I watched movies until 3pm. I later got out to buy something to eat. I had not even carried my phone and I was in slippers,” she tells The Standard.

Her assumption had been that it would be an ordinary brief walk to the shop and back to the hostel.

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While on her way to the shop, she heard a blast, which she dismissed as fireworks that are common in the  neighbourhood.

Second bang

When she got to the shop, however, it was closed. There was confusion as people ran in all directions.

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Soon after, she heard a second bang. She had to seek safety.

“A man in a car told me it was a bomb. I started running towards the campus, which is further than the hostels,” she said.

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The student spoke to The Standard alongside colleagues Faith Abigael, a second-year Biochemistry student, and Livya Wambui, a Psychology student, also in her second year.

Abigael said she was on her way to a laundry to collect clothes, while Wambui was in her hostel when the attack happened. Wambui said she remained in the hostel for almost three hours until security forces allowed them out.

Shadrack, a fourth-year student, said: “I was casually walking under the footbridge when I saw the terrorists’ car speeding on the road that leads to dusitD2. Within seconds, I heard a bang,” Shadrack said.

His friend Victor said he thought it was thunder.

“Silence followed for some seconds, then there was the continuous sound of gunfire,” Shadrack said.

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Lost control

The students say they saw the gunmen shoot at two female students who were on a motorcycle. “They shot one on the leg and the other one on her arm and back,” said Shadrack.

They said the boda boda rider lost control when the shooting began. He, with his pillion passengers, fell down. He, however, escaped unhurt, leaving the motorbike on the road. It was picked hours later.

The two injured were rescued by fellow students and taken to hospital by well-wishers.

Some of the students The Standard interviewed said their families were worried and called frantically. Others said their parents did not inquire about their well-being because they had no idea the hostels were so close to the 14 Riverside complex.

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Most students spent the night with friends in other hostels. But by Wednesday evening they had been allowed back to their hostels.

Many are still traumatised.

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Terror attackDusit terror attackTerrorismUniversity of Nairobi