On the eve of President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Moscow, nine Chinese nationals were murdered in a gold mine in the Central African Republic. After the case of the ICC arrest warrant, would this be an attempt to sabotage the said visit in view of the strong presence of Wagner’s militias in this African country?
On March 19, Beijing time, an armed attack on a private Chinese company in the Central African Republic left nine people dead and two seriously injured, all Chinese nationals. Shortly before landing in Moscow on Monday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping condemned the attack.
According to the statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Jinping has “ personally gave instructions that everything be done to save the lives of the injured. He also pledged to take appropriate measures in due course to deal with the consequences of the attack, so that the perpetrators are brought to justice and to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals.».
The statement clarified that the Foreign Ministry moved quickly to act on instructions from President Xi Jinping:
- We immediately activated the consular emergency response mechanism and set up teams on duty around the clock.
- Diplomatic representation was made to the Embassy of the Central African Republic in China.
- Our Ambassador to the Central African Republic has raised the incident with the Central African side, urging them to act.
- An embassy task force rushed to the site to coordinate the response to the attack.
The whole of the Central African Republic, with the exception of its capital Bangui, is classified red (that is to say extremely high) in terms of security risks, underlines the press release.
Over the past few months, the same source said, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has issued several security alerts and urged Chinese nationals and businesses to leave high-risk areas as soon as possible and seek safety.
“Once again, we urge our Chinese compatriots who are currently overseas to keep themselves informed of the latest security alerts from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to take these alerts very seriously and to stop traveling to risk areas. Those who are already there must leave immediately,” warned the statement from Chinese diplomacy.
Western sabotage or Russian pressure?
At least one local official has accused the rebel group CPC of being behind the killings, which occurred early Sunday when masked assailants attacked a mining site operated by a Chinese company.
However, the New York Times says the Coalition of Patriots for Change, or CPC, an alliance of rebel groups trying to oust pro-Kremlin President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, denied any involvement and instead blamed Wagner, the fighting force founded by an oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which is also fighting in Ukraine.
The famous American newspaper reports the declarations of two Western officials based in Bangui who affirm that “while the killings may have been carried out by rebels, it was also likely that Wagner agents were behind them».
Russian mercenaries have been operating since 2018 in the Central African Republic, one of the world’s poorest countries despite its vast reserves of gold and diamonds, which has been embroiled in bitter internal conflict since 2013. Wagner’s operatives have helped the Central African army to regain control of most of the country, not without abuses against civilians.
The New York Times says the Western officials roused spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give interviews. They said Wagner Group agents brought the bodies of the nine Chinese nationals back to Bangui. The nine men were shot at point-blank range, which officials say is inconsistent with the methods employed by rebel groups.
The sources of the American newspaper defended the Central African rebels:The CPC had kidnapped at least one Chinese national for money in the past year. They demand ransoms and the Chinese government pays. But they don’t kill.»
France also pointed the finger
In addition, the vice-president of the national assembly of the Central African Republic, Evariste Ngamana, accused “foreign mercenaries” affiliated with powers which “for centuries have exercised violence in our country” of being at the origin of the assassination. The politician was referring to France, the former colonial power which until last year had troops positioned in the Central African Republic. Which troops were driven out by the Russians of Wagner.