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Kenya orders probe into fire claims against UK troops

A Kenyan court has ordered the UK and Kenyan governments to resolve a dispute, in which British soldiers are accused of starting a wildfire during a training exercise that damaged a wildlife conservancy.

The fire in March 2021 destroyed about 12,000 acres of land at the privately owned Lolldaiga conservancy in central Kenya.

It prompted an environmental lawsuit brought by a lobby group and almost 1,000 local residents who accused the UK army of violating their right to a clean and healthy environment.

On Thursday, the court said it had jurisdiction on the case after the British army claimed sovereign immunity.

But Justice Antonina Kossy Bor directed that the matter be handled by an inter-governmental liaison committee, according to the terms of a Defence Cooperation Agreement signed by the two countries in 2015.

The committee must investigate the claims against the British soldiers and oversee resolution of the dispute, the judge said.

She added that the UK government will pay compensation to residents if British troops are found liable for the claims against them.

The British and Kenyan authorities will also be obliged to restore the damaged environment if the soldiers are found to have been negligent. BBC News

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