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Man shot as he tried to set self ablaze inside hospital

COUNTIES
By Joseph Masha | March 10th 2015

Kenya: Police shot and seriously wounded a man inside Kilifi County Referral Hospital after he allegedly tried to set himself and the institution on fire, on Sunday.

The chain of events is not clear and police have not indicated where the 35-year-old man was taken to afterwards, but initial reports indicated he had been taken to Coast General Hospital with bullet wounds in one arm and leg.

There was a brief scuffle with hospital security and armed police before he got shot.

"We are treating this occurrence as a normal crime and it is too early to suggest that the man could have been working with members of a terror group to cause problems at the hospital," said Kilifi County Police Commander Joseph Nthenge.

Mr Nthenge said detectives have launched investigation to establish the suspect's motive. He said the suspect was shot "because he was volatile and also sustained burns".

Nthenge later disclosed the suspect was recently released from Kilifi GK Prison where he served three years for assault. Reports show the man first gained access to the hospital reception posing as a 16-year-old girl but, strangely, under the male name Osman.

At around 1am he informed staff that he had gone to collect medicine for a patient that had been treated there. He later changed his story at the casualty, saying he needed treatment.

As medics attended to him, he grabbed a flammable liquid from the shelves, and drunk it while also dousing his clothes with it. He then fished matches from his pocket and ignited a fire.

Mental examination

The fire spread fast to the shelves and the casualty as security guards watched helplessly.

When armed policemen were called in, they first lobbed teargas canisters to subdue Osman to no avail. They then shot him in the leg and arm before bundling him into an ambulance.

Reports show hospital staff and police intended to take him for a mental checkup after treating his injuries. Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, who arrived at the hospital soon after the incident, dismissed claims that the man could be linked to other criminals plotting to attack the institution and recommended a mental examination.

"We should not start spreading rumours. This matter should be left to the medical personnel to examine him," said Mr Kingi.

Medics described the incident as an act of terror and threatened not to work at night until the county government and local police assure them of safety.

 

Mwachonda Hamisi, a doctor at the facility and a member of the National Executive Committee of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, said doctors and other staff had resumed night duties although security was still wanting.

"It is quite unfortunate that our members were asked to resume normal duties without taking into consideration their safety, barely 24 hours after the attack," said Dr Hamisi as county and hospital authorities assembled to address the crisis.

Later, Kilifi Health Executive  Swabah Omar and County Director of Medical Services Anisa Omar held an emergency meeting yesterday and assured the medics and other staff of their safety.

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