Around 650 British soldiers were confined to their barracks in Kenya after dozens of troops who’d visited prostitutes sought medical advice, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
The lockdown was ordered by their furious commanding officer after up to 100 personnel used the services of sex workers who set up temporary brothels near their base.
The soldiers, of the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment battlegroup, were in east Africa taking part in Exercise Askari Storm.
Confined to their barracks: A total of 650 soldiers from 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, battlegroup were placed under lockdown
In training: Around 100 personnel used the services of prostitutes leading to fears some may have HIV
Based at Laikipia air base, troops took part in the simulated rescue of up to 400 people in a mock overseas crisis which involved parachuting into Mount Kenya National Park.
The jump was followed by six weeks of training for soldiers from 3 Para along with engineers, signallers, medics and logisticians from across 16 Air Assault Brigade.
After being given leave, however, scores are said to have used the services of prostitutes in the nearby town of Nanyuki.a
At least 30 soldiers later reported to 3 Para’s medical centre saying they feared they may have contracted HIV or a sexually transmitted disease after having unprotected sex.
In response their commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Swann, ordered every soldier – regardless of rank – to remain on the base until they returned to Britain this weekend.
A document detailing his orders reads: ‘All 3 Para BG pers [persons] are gated effective immediately.
‘Situation: issues with poor discipline in Nanyuki, particularly to do with prostitution, have led the CO to direct that all pers are to be kept within barracks.
‘Pers that are currently at safari lodges are allowed to remain tonight and return tomorrow morning. All other pers are to return to camp immediately.
‘All functions in Nanyuki are to be cancelled – even if they are booked for this evening. There will be no visits to the curio shops or the mall.’
Kenya’s hot climate and rugged terrain give British troops the ideal environment to hone their skills and the Ministry of Defence has a deal with the Kenyan Government that allows six UK infantry battalions to conduct exercises there each year.
But there has been tension, with Kenyans accusing British soldiers of involvement in violent crime and thefts.
An Army spokesman said last night: ‘We expect very high standards of behaviour of our personnel, whether they are on or off duty.’