Russian Mercenaries Arrest Aid Workers Over Arms Ownership Suspicion In Central African Republic

The Russian mercenaries, working alongside FACA soldiers, arrested two ACTED volunteers and a CAR citizen over arms suspicion.

Three staff of the French humanitarian non-governmental organisation (NGO), ACTED, have been arrested by Russian mercenaries of the Wagner Security Group who sacked one of their bases in Bambari, chief town of the Ouaka prefecture in the Central African Republic.

The three aid workers were arrested on Wednesday, Feb. 23 when the Russian mercenaries and their allies from the Central African Republic national army, FACA, circled the base on allegation of searching for arms.

“This Wednesday February 23, 2022, to the surprise of the population, the operational base of the international NGO, ACTED, in Bambari, was encircled by Russian mercenaries, assisted by soldiers of the Central African Republic national army, FACA, elements of the gendarmerie and the police,” a local source in Bambari told HumAngle. 

“The reasons given for this action were that they were searching for arms that were delivered by a truck from Bangui.”

“However, after a search of the base, nothing was found. Later on, three staff, two of whom were French, were arrested and their turaya telephones were seized and blocked.”

The Central African humanitarian staff who was arrested along with the two Frenchmen was beaten while his French colleagues were detained for further investigations.

After the intervention of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and certain personalities, the Frenchmen were released but their telephones were retained.

“Things are being done as if they want France to intervene in the Central African Republic to put an end to this disorder. Our authorities don’t seem to understand what is going on,”a civil society activist who opted for anonymity said.

In Bambari where the incident took place, there are fears that the Mayor of the town, Abel Matchipata, was behind the arrest of the humanitarian workers.

According to several sources in the town, it was the Mayor who alerted the Russian mercenaries shortly after the arrival of the truck that was eventually searched by the mercenaries on suspicion of carrying arms.

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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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