Three Russian mercenaries and two local policemen were killed when an improvised explosive device was detonated on a stretch of a road between Berberati (Mambere-Kadei Prefecture) and Bouar (Nana-Mambéré) in the Central African Republic (CAR), announced the CAR government spokesman, Anj Maxim Kazagi. According to the AFP news agency, the three Russians are fighters of one of the paramilitary groups.
"Three Russian allies and two Central African police officers were killed," Kazagi said. According to UN sources, the attack took place on May 27, and five members of the Central African armed forces were also wounded.
The Russian Embassy in CAR said it was still checking the information.
According to the Central African news website Corbeau News, the convoy was returning to its home base. The explosion occurred near the village of Bondiba.
AFP reports that a Russian helicopter was sent to the scene to pick up the killed and wounded.
On 31 March, the UN working group on the use of mercenaries, for the first time, formally expressed concern about the extensive use by the CAR authorities of private military companies. The group's press release mentioned three Russian companies: Wagner Group, Sewa Security Services, which is believed to be Wagner’s branch in the CAR, and Lobaye Invest SARLU (formally a mining company founded in the CAR in 2017).
A total of 800 to 2,000 Russian mercenaries are involved in the CAR civil war, which has been going on since 2012, sources of RFI radio said. The Russian Embassy in the country said that there are 535 Russian instructors in the CAR who, according to Russian diplomats, do not take direct part in the fighting, except when they are attacked.
However, it was the Russians, as many in the republic believe, who played a decisive role in the government army's counter-offensive in 2020-2021, which allowed the authorities to retake most of the country's major cities from the rebels, RFI notes.