African Barrick Gold Sued in U.K. by Tanzanians Over Mine Deaths

African Barrick Gold Plc (ABG) was sued over the deaths and injuries of Tanzanian villagers including one incident where five men were shot and killed at the North Mara gold mine in May 2011.

At least 12 villagers filed a lawsuit in London accusing the company and North Mara Gold Mine Ltd. of using excessive force to protect the mine, according to law firm Leigh Day & Co., which represents the group. The company operates four mines in Tanzania.

“Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents,” Richard Meeran, a lawyer at Leigh Day, said in an e-mailed statement. “We are aware of many other instances in which local people have reportedly been seriously injured or killed at ABG’s mine.”

Foreign claimants file lawsuits in London even when the disputes have little connection to the U.K. Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) was sued by thousands of Nigerians in the U.K. courts in March 2012 claiming their land, rivers and wetlands were spoiled by two oil spills in the Niger River delta in 2008.

African Barrick said in a statement that the allegations stem from an incident that involved “violent intruders” who invaded the mine.

“After receiving repeated warnings of the risks associated with such activities, some of these intruders were injured by members of the Tanzanian police acting in self-defense or in defense of the safety of mine employees,” the company said in the statement.

A London judge last week ruled Anglo American Plc (AAL)’s South African unit couldn’t be sued in the U.K by hundreds of miners who blame the company for dust in African gold mines that they say caused lung disease.

The case is Magige Ghati Kesabo v African Barrick Gold Plc in the U.K. High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Case No. HQ13X02118

To contact the reporters on this story: Jeremy Hodges in London at jhodges17@bloomberg.net; Thomas Biesheuvel in London at tbiesheuvel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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