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Tension Brews Between Russian Mercenaries, UN Forces In Bria, Central African Republic

Some locals have abandoned their homes over fears that the tension between the two forces may escalate soon.

Three days after an attempt to arrest the leader of a detachment of the Central African Republic national army (FACA) in Bria by mercenaries of Wagner Security, there is palpable tension between the Russians and the Blue Helmets of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission (MINUSCA).

Security sources told HumAngle that a gunfire exchange between the Russian mercenaries and the UN forces was averted last week.

“The very high tension between the Wagner mercenaries and MINUSCA soldiers almost led to a gun battle in Bria last week,” one of the sources told HumAngle in Bria last evening.

“Within the last four days, there has been a massive exodus of youths from Bria to the national capital Bangui. The youths said they were leaving because of the security situation in Bria right now.”

According to the sources, the youths feared that a fight may soon break out between the Russians and the UN forces any time.

“The Russian mercenaries have vowed they would carry out a bold and aggressive operation within the following days in different quarters of Bria,” our source revealed.

“Officially, the Wagner mercenaries say they would be searching for arms and military equipment but officiously, their objective would be to massively arrest youths whom they henceforth consider as accomplices to the FACA captain who is on the run and whose name they refuse to divulge,” one youth who refused to identify himself told HumAngle.

HumAngle has gathered that some youths decided to alert the UN human rights and security services in the town, having got wind of the impending operation by the Russians.

It was further learnt that before the UN could take any action, a heavily-armed column of Russian mercenaries at about 4 p.m. on Saturday July, 10, 2021 rolled into Bria and entered Mandet quarter situated in the centre of the town.

Upon being alerted of the arrival of the Russians in Bria, heavily-armed UN forces in an armoured vehicle took positions in strategic corners of Mandet, face-to-face with the Russian mercenaries.

“The Russians have for now returned to their base but vow they would return soon,” a FACA military source told HumAngle.

MINUSCA sources say henceforth, UN Blue Helmets would accompany the Russian mercenaries wherever they go to check their violent excesses against the local populations.

Last Thursday, a captain and leader of the national army detachment in Bria was almost arrested by the Russian mercenaries.

The Russians accused the FACA captain of having sold arms to youths in Bria, whom they consider as accomplices of rebels. 

The captain fled for his life and is currently taking refuge in the MINUSCA base, which is one of the reasons for the heightened tension between the Russians and MINUSCA.

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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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