Three Russian paramilitaries and two Central African police officers were killed on Thursday by an explosive device in the north-west of the Central African Republic ravaged by civil war, the government spokesman told AFP on Sunday Angel Maxime Kazagui. “Three Russian allies and two Central African police officers were killed, there are also wounded,” Kazagui said. A military convoy struck an explosive device on the side of the road between Berbérati and Bouar, more than 400 km from the capital, Bangui, according to UN sources.

A Russian helicopter was sent to the site to repatriate the bodies of the victims and five wounded belonging to the Central African army and police, according to the same sources. Moscow, which exercises a great influence in this vast poor country and former French colony of Central Africa, has maintained a large contingent of “instructors” since 2018 to train the Central African army. But in December, Russia urgently dispatched hundreds of paramilitaries to rescue President Faustin Archange Touadera’s stripped army threatened by rebellion . Bangui then spoke of Russian “soldiers” as part of a bilateral defense agreement, before Moscow corrects it by qualifying them as “instructors”.

Many witnesses as well as NGOs assure that they were in fact fighters of the Russian private security group Wagner who actively participate, alongside Rwandan special forces and helmets UN blues, to the fighting against the rebels, now dispersed in the countryside after having threatened Bangui.

The UN for its part assured Friday that eleven people were killed in less than a month by mines in the Central African Republic, mainly in the northwest of the country, where some of the last strongholds of the rebel armed groups who controlled more than two-thirds of the territory until mid-January.

The presence of mines and explosive devices is a recent phenomenon in a country marked by years of armed conflict.

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