Gunmen kill 9 Chinese at a mine in Central African Republic

Authorities said militants stormed a newly opened Chinese gold mining complex in the Central African Republic on Sunday, killing nine Chinese and injuring two others.

However, the rebel coalition, which some initially blamed for the attack, released a statement later that day. Without presenting evidence, it accused Russian mercenaries from the Wagner group of involvement in the violence.

Sunday morning’s attack comes just days after militants kidnapped three Chinese citizens in the country’s west, close to the border with Cameroon. President Faustin Archangel Tovadera has planned a trip to China to reassure investors.

The attack on the Chimbolo gold mine began around 5 am when gunmen stormed the guards at the site and opened fire, said Abel Matipata, mayor of the nearby town few days ago.

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The bodies of the victims were brought to the capital, Bangui, later Sunday. Local authorities said they were pursuing the assailants but declined further comment. Residents said that the violence was the latest incident undermining confidence in security forces.

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

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

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

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

However, CPC spokesman Mamadou Koura stated that the claims were false. He claimed without evidence that the Russian mercenaries planned the attack “to frighten the Chinese, who were there long before the Russians settled in the area.”

A covert group of Russian mercenaries hired by Touadera for security and military training, but UN monitors accuse them of human rights abuses, including massacres.

Despite being rich in mineral resources such as gold and diamonds, the Central African Republic is still one of the poorest countries in the world. Over the past decade, numerous insurgent groups have operated with impunity in the war-torn country, hindering the exploration of deposits by foreign companies.

Many of those now operating in the country are Chinese-run and have faced security challenges. In 2020, two Chinese nationals died when local residents led an uprising against a Chinese-operated 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 accompanying Chinese miners to a site.

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