Gunmen kill 9 Chinese in mine in Central African Republic


BANGUI, CAR – Gunmen stormed a Chinese-run gold mining facility that had recently opened in the CAR on Sunday, killing nine Chinese nationals and injuring two others, authorities said.

However, the rebel coalition, originally blamed by some for the attack, issued a statement later in the day. Without providing any evidence, she accused Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group of being behind the violence.

The attack early Sunday came just days after gunmen kidnapped three Chinese nationals in the west of the country near the border with Cameroon, prompting President Faustin Archange Touadera to plan a trip to China to reassure investors.

The attack on the Chimbolo gold mine began around 5am when gunmen overwhelmed the site’s guards and opened fire, said Abel Matipata, mayor of the nearby town of Bambari, 25 kilometers away. The mining site started just a few days earlier, he added.

The bodies of the victims were taken to the capital, Bangui, later on Sunday. Local authorities said they were pursuing the attackers but declined to comment further. Local residents said the violence was the latest incident to undermine trust in the security forces.

“The government is struggling to demonstrate its ability to protect Central Africans and foreigners living in the country,” said Ange Morel Gbatangue, a Bambari resident.

There was no immediate admission of responsibility, but suspicion fell on the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), which operates in the area and regularly launches attacks on the country’s armed forces. The alliance of rebel groups is allied with former President Francois Bozize.

Anselme Bangue, who supports the current president’s government, called the attack on Chinese businessmen an act of “unutterable cowardice”.

“The CCP has not only slowed down the country’s economic dynamism, but is now attacking the fundamentals of development. This is unacceptable,” Bangue said.

However, CPC military spokesman Mamadou Koura said these allegations were false. He claimed without evidence that Russian mercenaries planned the attack “with the aim of frightening Chinese, who were present in this part of the country long before the Russians settled there.”

The shadowy Russian mercenary group was hired by Touadera to provide security and military training but has been accused by UN monitors of human rights abuses including massacres.

The Central African Republic remains one of the poorest countries in the world, despite its vast wealth in natural resources, including gold and diamonds. Countless rebel groups have operated with impunity in the contested country over the past decade, thwarting mining exploration by foreign companies.

Many of those now operating in the country are Chinese-run and have faced security problems. In 2020, two Chinese nationals died when local residents led a riot against a Chinese-run mine in Sosso Nakombo. And in 2018, three Chinese citizens were killed by angry community members after a local leader died in a boating accident while escorting Chinese miners to a site.

Krista Larson reported from Dakar, Senegal.


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