Armed ViolenceNews

Russian Mercenaries Kill Rebel Leader, Others In Central African Republic

FPRC rebel leader, Zakaria Damane was killed by Russian mercenaries along with his combatants despite an armistice with the CAR Gov’t.

The leader of the Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC), Zakaria Damane, his brother, and 20 of his combatants have been killed by Russian mercenaries in Ouadda village, located in Haute-Kotto prefecture to the north of the Central African Republic.

The rebel leader and his men were killed on Saturday, Feb. 12, by a patrol of Russian mercenaries supported by soldiers of the Central African Republic national army, FACA.

“Since Zakaria Damane and all his men had embraced the ongoing disarmament process, they rather appreciated the arrival of the Russian mercenaries and the FACA soldiers. They thought the Russians and FACA soldiers were members of the disarmament team that had come to continue with the disarmament process,” a local activist said.

“Unfortunately, that was not the case. The Russians rather demanded to know where Zakaria Damane was and without knowing the intentions of the Russians, Damane’s men told them where their leader was. The Russians told them they wanted to see Damane in person and still without knowing what the Russians were after, Damane’s men went and called their leader.”

“As Damane was approaching the Russian mercenaries, they opened fire when he was about 100 metres away from them. Dramane dropped dead.”

“On sighting their leader shot dead, the RPRC rebels tried to escape into nearby bushes but they were all killed in a rain of bullets. Most of the corpses are still on the spot where they were shot dead,” the activist added. 

Before they arrived Ouadda, the Russian mercenaries and their FACA allies were confronted by a group of armed youths in Mouka, one of the villages where the mercenaries had massacred several civilians and burnt down many houses on Feb. 9, 2022. 

They seized the arms of the youths close to Damane who was an ally of Michel Djotodia, the former Central African Republic head of state and leader of the Seleka.

Several military and UN sources said the rebel leader was a pillar in the disarmament and demobilisation process of rebels in the region of Sam-Ouandja, precisely in Haute-Kotto and Vakaga.

The same sources revealed that Damane was responsible for the surrender of several rebels who have since joined the disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation, and reintegration process.

He was also a close friend to Hydraulic Minister Gontran Djono Ahaba as well as an ally of the Minister of Justice, Arnaud Djoubaye Abazene.

“Above everything else, Zakaria Damane was very close to the regime of President Faustin Archange Touadera for whom he campaigned during the December 2020 presidential election,” one of sources revealed.

There are rumours that Damane was a victim of the fight for the control of mining zones by Russian mercenaries of the Wagner Security Group.

“Operatives of the Wagner Security Group no longer want to see Central African Republic citizens in the diamond and gold mines situated in the region and for the past one month, they have been carrying out vast operations in the local mining villages. They have since massacred tens of civilians and razed down hundreds of houses,” a local village chief who did not want to be named for security reasons told HumAngle

“To the Russian mercenaries, the local populations who are natives of the regions should not touch anything involving mining activities whereas mining has been their main source of income from their time of birth.”

HumAngle learnt that the village of Ouadda is totally empty of inhabitants and most of its houses have been destroyed.

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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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