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MSF Staff, 3 Others Killed, 20 Wounded In CAR Russian Mercenaries Bungling

Four persons including a staff of the French humanitarian organization Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have so far been killed in incidents resulting from the bungling of Russian mercenaries working for the Wagner security company in the Central African Republic.

According to local sources in the towns and villages where the Russians have been operating, the Wagner security operatives are so trigger happy and always shoot to kill every moving object when confronted by combatants mostly of the several rebel groups operating in the Central African Republic.

Those so far killed have been civilians and not the fighters with whom the Russians are supposed to exchange fire when it becomes necessary.

One of their recent victims was Albertine Bikosse, a 72-year-old man, an inhabitant of Kpabe near Sibut town who was on December 25, 2020 shot at point-blank range as he was struggling to save his grandson during an exchange of fire between the various warring factions in the town.

A similar incident was reported in Boali, where the Russians were engaged in fighting with rebels of the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC).

“The Russians were ordered by their leader to shoot at everything that moved and they did just that leaving a yet to be confirmed number of people dead,” a civil society activist who did not want to be named for his safety told HumAngle in Bangui on Monday.

In a related incident, Russian mercenaries on December 28, 2020, in Grimari town, opened fire on a transport vehicle which was plying the Bambari-Bangui highway.

Their shooting forced the vehicle to skid off the highway, plunging into a ditch. Four persons in the vehicle died and 20 others sustained serious injuries.

Among the four was a staff of the French humanitarian organization Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

Eyewitness accounts say the trigger-happy Russians shot at the transport vehicle on the pretext that it was carrying fighters of the CPC rebel movement.

“Right now it is difficult to ascertain the exact number of people the Russian mercenaries have killed since arriving in the country because their unprofessional behaviour expands to various corners of the country where they have been operating,” our source in Bangui revealed.

The vexing part here is that it is difficult to hold the Russians accountable for their deeds because they are not answerable to the Bangui authorities and they operate as warlords in a conquered land.”

This is not the first time the Russian mercenaries are behaving this way.

During clashes with armed groups in Bambari in January 2019, the security operatives of Wagner were accused of having apprehended and tortured a businessman in the town after holding him captive for five days.

The said businessman whose name was not immediately made public was arrested in the Bambari market and accused of being a leader of the ex-Seleka rebel group.

He was tortured for five days and the Russians later said they brutalized him in the hope of getting him to confess to his membership of the ex-Seleka rebels.

The man, however, continued to insist he was not a member of ex-Seleka.

The rather care-free attitude of the Russians in their dealings in the Central African Republic brings into focus the dangers of using mercenaries in battle as against hiring professional soldiers.

And this is part of the reasons the Central African Republic and its people continue to wallow in war, terror and despair.

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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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