Russian mercenaries of the Wagner Security Group who are supporting the Central Republic military have allegedly demanded payment before they can release nine businessmen they arrested.
The businessmen, according to local sources, were arrested on Wednesday, Dec. 22 in the locality of Bria, chief town of the Haute-Kotto prefecture in the centre-north of the Central African Republic.
According to the local gendarmerie, the Russian mercenaries have been demanding 500,000 FCFA (about 1,000 US dollars) ransom before the arrested persons are released.
“The Wagner Security paramilitary men are yet to give reasons for the arrest of the nine persons but everybody here knows that this is their modus operandi,” a civil society activist in Bria told HumAngle.
“When they want to extort money from business people, they arrest them on framed-up charges and eventually demand large sums of money for their release.”
HumAngle learnt that seven of the arrested persons have been released after their families paid a total of 3.5 million FCFA (about 7,000 US dollars) while two are still being held as of Friday, Dec. 24.
“We are still running around searching for one million FCFA to give to the Russians to secure the release of our brothers,” a relation to one of the arrested businessmen revealed.
HumAngle reports that within the hinterlands of the Central African Republic, Russian mercenaries are the supreme overlords.
Recently, the Russian mercenaries invaded the Bria central market and went on a boutique-by-boutique extortion of money from business owners who were forced to pay large sums or have their business places sealed.
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