British soldier killed off duty in Kenya

British soldier killed off duty in Kenya

NAIROBI — A British soldier has died while off duty in Kenya, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) has said.

The BBC understands 32-year-old Maj Kevin McCool was on a motorcycle trip off base when he was attacked.

MoD officials confirmed the soldier’s next of kin have been informed, but said it would not be releasing any details of what happened.

Defense Secretary Grant Shapps led tributes to Maj McCool describing the death as a “tragic loss”.

He added: “It’s clear from the tributes of those who knew him that Maj McCool was an exceptional person and an exceptional soldier, loved and respected in equal measure, who served his country with distinction.”

The MoD said Maj McCool died on Nov. 29.

He was commissioned from Sandhurst in August 2014 and was deployed in Europe, the Middle East, the Falklands and Africa.

“As well as a glittering operational record, he also aced many of the military’s hardest courses,” the MoD said in a eulogy.

It added: “His fitness was legendary, once beating the whole Battalion on a two miler, as was his endurance. His enthusiasm was infectious.

“He had a mischievous twinkle in his eye, that made him tremendous fun to be with. Yet his professionalism and sense of purpose was paramount, and clear to all those lucky enough to serve with him.”

Maj. McCool has been described as a “big family man” and his commanding officer paid tribute to him as a man “of the utmost integrity”.

“I will never forget my final memory of him, which was on operations; he had just come off the ground having slept a handful of hours in as many days,” the officer said.

“We discussed the possibility of having to deploy another team into the operational furnace from which he had just come. He stopped me mid-sentence, fixed me with his piercing blue eyes, and simply said, ‘send me’.

“A bright light has gone out amongst our ranks. He will be missed, but never forgotten.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “My heart goes out to Maj McCool’s family, friends, and fellow soldiers today in the face of their tragic loss.”

For many years the British army has had a unit based in Kenya, where soldiers receive training before being deployed elsewhere in the world.

The British Army has a small base in Nairobi and a bigger training support unit in Nanyuki which is 200km north of the Kenyan capital.

According to the British Army website, there are around 100 permanent staff in Kenya reinforcing a short tour cohort of another 280 personnel.

Kenyan troops also receive training specially to help with the fight against Islamist militants in the region.

Under an agreement with the Kenyan government, up to six infantry battalions per year carry out eight-week exercises in Kenya. — BBC

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