Armed men stormed a Chinese-run gold mine in the Central African Republic on Sunday, authorities said, killing nine Chinese nationals.
“We have counted nine bodies and two injured,” Abel Machibata, mayor of the nearby town of Bambari, told AFP.
He said the victims were Chinese workers at a site operated by the Gold Coast Group. In the aftermath of the attack, the Chinese embassy called on Chinese citizens not to travel outside of Capital Bangui, according to a statement on the embassy’s website.
Machibata said the attack on the Chimbolo gold mine began around 5 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) when the gunmen overpowered the site’s guards and opened fire.
He added that the launch of the mining site took place only a few days ago.
The attack came just days after gunmen kidnapped three Chinese nationals in the west of the country, near the border with Cameroon. The kidnappings prompted Central African Republic President Faustin Arching Touadera to plan a trip to China in an effort to reassure investors.
CPC suspected, blaming Russian mercenaries
No group has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack.
But the Patriots for Change Alliance, which is active in the region and regularly launches attacks on the country’s armed forces, is skeptical.
The rebel group alliance is allied with former President Francois Bozize, who was overthrown by Muslim-dominated armed groups in 2013.
Anselme Bangui, who supports the current president’s administration, called the attack on Chinese businessmen “unspeakable cowardice.”
“The CPC has not only slowed down the country’s economic momentum but is now attacking the foundations of development. This is unacceptable,” Bangui said.
However, the Chinese Communist Party’s military spokesman, Mamadou Koura, said the allegations were false.
He claimed, without providing evidence, that the Russian mercenaries had planned the attack “with the aim of frightening the Chinese who had been present long before the Russians settled in this part of the country.”
the shadow Russian mercenary group He was hired by Touadera to provide security and military training but was accused by UN observers of human rights abuses including massacres.
The security vacuum leaves CAR vulnerable
Despite its vast mineral wealth in gold and diamonds, the Central African Republic remains one of the poorest countries in the world.
Dozens of rebel groups have operated with impunity over the past decade, thwarting mining exploration by foreign companies.
Many of the mines now operating in the country are run by China and face security challenges.
In 2020, two Chinese nationals die when local residents lead an uprising against a Chinese-run mine in Suso-Nakumbo.
And in 2018, three Chinese nationals were killed by angry community members after a local chief died in a boating accident while escorting Chinese miners to a site.
ar, mm / jsi (AFP, AP)
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