On June 15th, CNN reported that Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic had been ‘implicated in torture and killing of civilians.’
The report begins with an alleged witness testimony claiming that on February 15, Russian mercenaries attacked a village and shot, and killed, civilians in a mosque.
The witness ‘Fatouma’ had both her children shot, but they survived.
“It was the Russians and the FACA [the CAR army],” Fatouma said.
The timeline is allegedly this:
Russian mercenaries, supported by at least one combat helicopter, attacked the neighborhood as they hunted for rebels known as the Seleka. But according to multiple witnesses, they opened fire indiscriminately against civilians, many of them hiding at the al Taqwa mosque.
“There was not a single Seleka element found in the mosque,” Fatouma said. “It was just the civilian population that they killed. We didn’t even see a dead Seleka body on the ground, it was our children they killed.”
A video was shared back in mid-May by French media allegedly showing Russian mercenaries over the bodies of CAR civilians that they killed in the said mosque.
HINT: Russian media and specialists claim that the video is fake, and the individuals in the footage are actors and showing props, including the corpses. It is simply footage of a Russian action film about its mercenaries and troops in CAR, and footage of the production was leaked online.
STILL, DUE TO THE GRAPHIC NATURE OF IT, VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED
Those who are skeptical about the authenticity of the video are also advised to watch the trailer of the upcoming “Russian action film” – ‘Tourist’:
Reported alleged incidents of abuses have spiked since late December, when Russian mercenaries joined a government offensive against rebel groups that had tried to advance on the capital.
In a letter to Ivan Mechetin, the Russian mercenary force’s representative in CAR, in March the UNWG wrote that: “the deployment of your personnel appears to have contributed to the rapid escalation and intensification of hostilities, in turn resulting in civilian harm and suffering.”
CNN and The Sentry obtained confidential UN documents that support the accusations against the Russian mercenaries made by witnesses and victims.
A report compiled by the UN peacekeeping force in CAR, known as MINUSCA, said that in Bambari, “FACA and bilateral forces especially Russians and elements believed to be Syrians may have committed war crimes, especially in executing civilians and other individuals who were not taking part in hostilities.”
In its report on the incident in Bambari, the UN Working Group (UNWG) on Mercenaries said Russian mercenaries stood “accused of using excessive force and shelling protected sites such as a mosque and IDP camps.”
And on March 14, a group of Russians shot dead the chief of a village near Bambari after accusing him of being sympathetic to the rebels, according to a community leader from a neighboring village, who spoke to Sentry on condition of anonymity.
The community leader said the Russians allegedly set fire to 60 homes and stole motorbikes and other goods.
The MINUSCA team that investigated the incident in mid-March reported that three men were believed to have been “executed” by FACA/Russian forces. “These three men were not armed when they were arrested at the entrance of the mosque,” according to the confidential MINUSCA report.
According to the CNN, the UN said it admitted to war crimes, but actually it simply said that mercenaries, military and UN peacekeepers had close contacts.
“This blurring of the lines between civil, military and peacekeeping operations during the hostilities creates confusion about the legitimate targets and increases the risks for widespread human rights and humanitarian law abuses”, said the UN-appointed independent experts, including the UN Working Group on mercenaries.
Whether any of this is true remains in question, as CNN provided an alleged MINUSCA report that mentions none of what the report claims. Other than that, it is based on unidentified witnesses, also loosely understood statements.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Chad Accuses CAR Forces And Their Russian Allies Of Raiding Border Checkpoint
- Military Situation In CAR On May 31, 2021 (Map Update)