, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 1 – Some minutes after 3pm on January 15, attackers forced their way into 14 Riverside Drive shooting at anything that moved.
The incident last for about 20 hours and in the process, 21 people were killed and another 700 were rescued.
One of the attackers blew himself up whole the other four were killed by Kenyan Special Forces.
“I never knew the threat of terrorism is this real until my daughter was affected,” were the words of Phyllis Ouko on the fateful night of January 15.
When she spoke to Capital FM News, she held only on the hope that her daughter would be among those who will live to tell the story another day – she survived.
The threat of terror is real and security experts now say it is time every person living Kenya gets sensitized on what to do in case they find themselves in the face of an active shooter or where there is an explosion.
It is a calling well understood by a section of Kenyans who have found themselves in a precarious situation either as victims, hostages or simply witnesses.
-Run, Hide or Fight-
Run, hide or fight – It sounds simple but there is more to it if one is to come out of such an incident alive.
Capital FM News spoke to Solomon Kimeu, a Nairobi based security expert, who started by condemning those who love to be witnesses in a shoot-out or worse situation.
“Better be wrong than be sorry,” he says.
“The moment you hear of something that sounds like gunfire, believe it and trust it is gunfire. It is better to be wrong.”
But even before you run, Kimeu says you need to first study your environment to avoid being out of the frying pan into the fire.
“The most important thing is awareness of your environment,” he asserts.
National Guns Owners Association chairperson Anthony Wahome on his part says if you have opted to run, make sure you are out of the shooter or shooters’ way, leave your belongings behind, warn and prevent individuals from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
While hiding, the security experts say, one should ensure all electronic devices are on silence mode – they should not vibrate if called – lock and block doors, close blinds and turn off lights.
“Again, if you are hiding, don’t do it in groups. Spread out along walls or hide separately to make it difficult for the shooter,” Wahome said.
Reaching out to security forces, he says should be done silently.
-Fight as an absolute last resort-
If the attacker comes to where you are hiding, the last option is to fight with the aim of disarming him or her or escaping.
“Act as aggressive as possible against the shooter,” Kimeu said.
In the process, if you are many in a room, he says “you should try to ambush the shooter with makeshift weapons like chairs, fire extinguishers, scissors, books and so on.”
“There is no time for being cool. Be ready to fight after all it is about your life.”
-Hands in the air-
Like witnessed during 14 Riverside Drive terror attack, police with the help of licensed gun holders safely evacuated hundreds of people held for hours inside their respective places.
The security experts caution that one must no act in a way likely to provoke security forces.
“They will not hesitate to fire if you provoke them,” Wahome warns.
So, when facing the police, he says one should keep hands visible, empty and follow instructions.
“The golden rule is always you take care of yourself first,” he says.
If there is an unconscious person, they should be turned on their sides and kept warm.
When you are out and safe, consider seeking professional help so that you can be able to cope with the long-term, effects of trauma.
-The trend of recent terror incidents in Kenya-
On September 21, 2013, four terrorists attacked Westgate shopping mall killing more than 60 people while more than a hundred others sustained injuries.
The siege lasted for four days.
Counties bordering war-torn Somalia have also not been spared as Al-Shabaab militants take advantage of its porous nature to launch pockets of attacks before retreating to their hideouts.
On April 2, 2015, 148 people, majority of them students were killed when the militants attacked Garissa University College.
Some 79 others sustained gunshot injuries.
Kenya Defence Forces are part of a 22,000 strong Africa Union Missions in Somalia fighting Al-Shabaab militants.
The terror group has greatly been incapacitated but they still have the ability to launch attacks within Somalia and the region.