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Anxiety In Central African Republic As Russian Mercenaries Set To Enter Yalinga Town

Following misdeeds in other recovered towns and villages, people in Yalinga town are apprehensive as Russian mercenaries move in to evict rebels.

After visiting desolation and mayhem on the town of Bria in the Haute-Kotto district of the Central African Republic, Russian mercenaries of the Wagner security company have left the town and are now heading towards Yalinga, situated 170 kilometres to the east.

The main objective of the Russians is to reach the towns of Nzako and Bakouma before the end of April.

Whilst the people of Bria are relieved that the Russians have left their town, the communities in Yalinga, Nzako and Bakouma are worried that the fate the Russians visited on Bria would also be theirs when they arrive at their towns.

“We have heard how the Russian mercenaries looted shops and private houses carting away valuables. We all here are afraid they might do the same thing to us when they arrive here. Looting and harassment have been their stock in trade wherever they have passed,” a visibly worried inhabitant told HumAngle in Yalinga.

The Russian mercenaries who also have Syrian fighters within their ranks left Bria in three pickup vehicles after ordering soldiers of the Central African Republic national army to accompany them.

“However, three kilometres from Bria, the Russian and their Syrian allies ordered the FACA soldiers to disembark from the pickup vehicles and set up a checkpoint in the locality,” said a security official who did not want to be named.

“Only the Russian mercenaries accompanied by their Syrian allies are continuing their way to Yalinga.”

Sources close to the Russians say their objective is to capture the town of Yalinga by this weekend.

Hinted about the arrival of the Russians, the rebels of the UPC who constitute one of the six-armed groups that make up the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) have since fled from Yalinga.

“Most times when the CPC rebels flee from a town, they move into artisanal mining sites where they intimidate the local populations and seize their gold and diamonds,” the source revealed.

The rebels have also fled from Bakouma that they occupied for some time and most of them are reported to be hiding in villages within the periphery of the town.

“They have been prohibiting the villagers from carrying out their farming activities and have been extorting every little money the people had left with them.”

“We are really caught in the middle of two vicious groups namely the CPC rebels and the Russian mercenaries. Only soldiers of the national army the FACA can save us from this unfortunate predicament but surprisingly our own army is doing nothing to help us.”

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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