Armed ViolenceNews

Central African Republic: Army Takes Over Gaga After Rebels Attack Chinese Facilities

Soldiers of the Central African Republic army are presently patrolling the streets of Gaga, a town situated in the Ombella-Mpoko prefecture of the Central African Republic following an attack of Chinese mining installations in the town on Sunday August 30, 2020 by heavily armed rebels.

The real origins of the violent clashes remains uncertain as at the time of filing this report. 

However, some reports say trouble started around midday last Sunday when a member of the Chinese security detail guarding Chinese mining installations in the town “untintentionally” fired a shot which wounded a villager.

Paradoxically, this instead led to violent confrontations between the villagers and elements of the Central African Republic national army. 

Militia of a yet-to-be-identified rebel movement in the town seized the opportunity to visit mayhem on Chinese mineral facilities in the locality.

From exchanges with light arms, heavy weapons eventually came into play between the national army and rebel fighters sending villagers and all foreign inhabitants in the town fleeing for their lives.

National army fighters were eventually routed from the locality and the rebel combatants took over the total control of Gaga for about 48 hours after which they embarked on burning and looting.

“Administrative buildings and Chinese properties were sacked and some razed down as rebel fighters looted every valuable they could find in the buildings. 

“Chinese workers were stripped naked and most of their belongings seized. 

“A number of safes containing money and precious stones as well as jewelry were carted away by the rebel fighters as they disappeared into the forest on the arrival of Central African Republic army reinforcements arrived from Bouar”, a local official in Gaga who elected for anonymity told HumAngle.

It should be recalled that for quite some time now, the Chinese exploiting minerals in the Central African Republic have been suspected of engaging in unwholesome activities including the kidnapping of children under the ages of six years in the region.

In Gaga and Yaloke, villagers accuse the Chinese of kidnapping and killing children whose eyes they pluck out and use for rituals ostensibly to enable them acquire gold and diamonds.

The Chinese are also accused of engaging in land speculation and illegal acquisition of land at give-away prices from poor and dispossessed locals.

“When they discover minerals on a parcel of land, they hoodwink the owner of the land to sell it to them at prices as low as 1,000 FCFA (about US$2) per square metre, from which land they eventually mine gold, diamonds and other minerals at no extra remuneration to the land owners. 

This is illegal because the law demands that such acquisitions must be done through government”, the local official revealed.

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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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