September 22 2014 Latest news:
By Matthew Gooding
Thursday, August 14, 2014
A villager has expressed security concerns after Libyan soldiers training at Bassingbourn barracks left the base without permission.
The soldiers were spotted walking in the direction of Litlington on Friday evening, and had to be rounded up by Ministry of Defence staff.
Bassingbourn resident Patsy Moore told The Crow: “Last Friday evening my husband and I were driving to the Pig and Abbot pub in Abington Piggots and we saw about eight young men walking along the road in front of us - they were walking in small groups.
“We couldn’t work out where they were going as they were in the middle of nowhere, going in the direction of Litlington.
“We spoke to the landlord of the pub when we arrived and someone contacted the Barracks.
“After that there seemed to be more vehicles driving around, presumably staff from the Barracks out trying to intercept them.”
The Libyan troops arrived at Bassingbourn barracks in June to begin a 24-week course of basic infantry and junior command skills. The training programme, which is being funded by the Libyan government, was agreed as part of a G8 nations plan to train a General Purpose Force to help bring stability to the war-torn middle-eastern country.
Mrs Moore said: “They seemed harmless and maybe they were, but that’s not the point. They had obviously found it pretty easy to elude security, wander around the roads.
“We were promised they would be kept secure and now it seems this wasn’t the first time they’ve been wandering around and it sure won’t be the last.”
Some troops have been allowed to leave the base as a reward for good behaviour, and have visited the nearby Tesco store at Royston. But on these excursions they are accompanied by staff from the barracks.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The Libyan recruits are under training at Bassingbourn and have been since the start of June. During that time a number of organised trips and visits outside of the camp have taken place.
“Over the weekend a number of recruits left camp after training to visit the facilities in the local community. Training staff located them and together they returned to camp.
“All the Libyan recruits have been reminded of the standards of behaviour we expect whilst training at Bassingbourn this includes not leaving camp without prior permission.”