Despite denials from the insurgents, the authorities in the Central African Republic announced on Wednesday that they believe a prominent rebel organization was responsible for the deaths of nine Chinese gold miners one month ago.
The Russian paramilitary force Wagner was contracted to defend numerous lucrative gold and diamond mines operated by Russian corporations in the nation. The rebels blamed Wagner for the attack. A final report from an investigation into the fatalities that occurred on March 19 was cited by the Minister of Justice, Arnaud Djoubaye Abazene, when he stated that the perpetrators were “indisputably elements from the CPC,” which stands for the Coalition of Patriots for Change.
The CPC, which is an alliance of rebel organizations that was created in December 2020 with the goal of removing President Faustin-Archange Touadera from office, has denied any involvement in what it has referred to as “despicable and barbaric” conduct. It has failed to present any proof to support its claim that Wagner mercenaries were engaged in the killings. During the press conference that the minister of justice gave, however, journalists were not permitted to ask questions, and the minister of justice declined to release any details from the report that accused the rebels.
In 2018, hundreds of Wagner paramilitaries were sent to the Central African Republic (CAR), and their numbers were boosted in 2020 in order to defend the nation’s capital from an assault by the CPC. The nine miners had been working for the Chinese company Gold Coast Group at the Chimbolo mine, which is located approximately 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Bambari, the most populous town in the Ouaka prefecture. At the press conference, Abazene said that the president congratulated “our Russian allies who were able to neutralize certain perpetrators, seize evidence, and put the rest of these criminals on the run.”
Although Abazene declined to identify the two Chinese officials who attended the press conference, Abazene did disclose that the officials had not visited the site of the attack, which was located some 250 miles east of Bangui and 400 kilometers to the northeast of the capital city. After the killings, the President of China, Xi Jinping, issued “important instructions, demanding an all-out effort to treat the wounded, handle the aftermath in a timely manner, severely punish perpetrators in accordance with the law, and ensure the safety of Chinese citizens.”
According to China’s official news agency, two people sustained critical injuries. Since 2013, when a Muslim-majority rebel group known as the Seleka overthrew previous President Francois Bozize, the Central African Republic (CAR), which is one of the poorest countries in the world, has been mired in the throes of civil conflict.
Militias have control over wide swaths of land and frequently engage in conflict with one another over access to minerals and other resources. However, Russian and Chinese corporations are the most successful miners in the Bambari region’s gold and diamond mines. The United Nations and other foreign humanitarian organizations have accused both sides of the conflict of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, despite the fact that civilians are frequently the victims of the battle.
Since their arrival, the Wagner mercenaries have assisted in driving the majority of the rebels back to their native lands. This has enabled the Central African security forces to regain control of a number of cities and mining operations. Additionally, it is believed that the government of Bangui awarded Wagner and allied businesses contracts to operate a number of mines. Since then, rebel groups have turned to guerilla tactics in order to target the Central African Republic military and the Russian partners they have.