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Central African Republic Gov’t Attempts To Cover Up Massacre By Russian Mercenaries

The presidential spokesperson blamed the ‘rumour’ surrounding the massacre in Bria on enemies of the CAR regime in Bangui. This is despite evidence showing that the killings did happen.

Attempts by the government of the Central African Republic to deny the killings of over 70 persons by FACA and their Russian mercenaries allies in Aigbado and Yanga villages in Bria on  Sunday, Jan. 16,  have been condemned as a slap on the memories of the victims.

Albert Yaloke Mokpeme, presidential spokesperson had accused foreign media in the country of orchestrating such a report which he described as a campaign against the Central African Republic army, FACA and their allies. 

“We should not deceive ourselves about who is the enemy. It does not surprise us when we see the media that is putting out this information. I will call them by name: Agence France Presse, Mediapart, Ouest-France, RFI, La Croix. Understand that. It is a campaign against FACA and our allies,” Mokpeme said in a statement on Sunday, Jan. 30.

“They want to present us as assassins of the Central African Republic people. They are fanning chaos in the Central African Republic. Some media are involved in this campaign and certain armed groups are armed and financed for that. We want this to stop.” 

He denied the reports that the Russian mercenaries and FACA forces carried out the massacre. 

The presidential spokesperson argued that allegations concerning the Bria massacre were a campaign of denigration aimed at “diverting the attention of the public from the common enemy of the country who is nobody else but the rebels,” adding that the FACA and their Russian mercenary allies have been doing a great job on the ground.

“Curiously, certain countries want to take the example from us with clear results from the work we are doing on the ground. That is to say we are on the correct path. We should not be deceived by the real enemy.”

Meanwhile the killings have been condemned by some senior officers of FACA and the United Nations.

The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission to the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), civil society organizations, and certain national and international observers have expressed surprise by the declarations of the presidential spokesperson.

“The declarations of the presidential spokesman are a slap in the face to the memory of the several victims,” said the father of a diamond merchant who was killed in the Jan. 16 massacre.

The distraught father said Albert Yaloke Mokpeme must apologise to the several bereaved families for his disheartening statements.

For certain national observers, the attitude of President Faustin Archange Touadera towards the behavior of the Russian mercenaries indicates that he is an accomplice to the crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Russian paramilitary operatives.

On  Sunday, Jan. 16, under the cover of carrying out an operation against rebels of the Unite pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC) in the north of Bria, Russian mercenaries and FACA soldiers killed about 70 civilians and wounded one hundred others.

The United Nations has opened an investigation into the massacre. 

Eyewitnesses have already been interrogated but the Bangui regime continues to reject the accusations of a massacre.

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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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