nine Chinese killed in the center of the country, Xi calls for “severe punishment” of the culprits

Nine Chinese nationals were killed on Sunday at a mining site in the country. FLORENT VERGNES

The Central African Republic, the second least developed country in the world according to the UN, has been the scene of a civil war since 2013, which was very deadly in its first years.

Nine Chinese were killed at a mining site in the Central African Republic, in the throes of a civil war, an attack denounced by Chinese President Xi Jinping who called on Monday to “severely punish” the guilty. The attack took place around 5 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) on Sunday in the Bambari region, in the center of the African country, the mayor of the commune, Abel Matchipata, told AFP. “We counted nine bodies and two wounded”, he pointed out. According to him, the victims are Chinese nationals working on a mining site of the “Gold Coast Group” company, located 25 km from the locality and which was attacked by “armed men”.

China confirmed the toll on Monday, citing “two seriously injured, but without giving further details on the circumstances of this attack, which has not been the subject of any claim so far. Xi Jinping “called for all necessary efforts to treat the injured” as well as “severely punish murderers according to law”the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “With the exception of the capital Bangui, the level of security risk in the other regions of the Central African Republic is red, that is to say extremely high”the ministry said, calling on Chinese citizens “to be evacuated as soon as possible” dangerous areas.

“Ignoble and barbaric”

The bodies of the victims of the attack were transferred to the Friendship Hospital in Bangui, where the Chinese ambassador, Li Qinfeng, went and the Central African Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sylvie Baipo Temon, noted a AFP journalist. The Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), an alliance of rebel groups created in December 2020 to overthrow President Faustin Archange Touadéra, denied any involvement in the attack on Sunday. She denounced an act “despicable and barbaric”accused the “Russian mercenaries (of the paramilitary organization) Wagner” to be the origin.

The Central African Republic, the second least developed country in the world according to the UN, has been the scene of a civil war since 2013, very deadly in its first years but which has decreased in intensity since 2018. At the end of 2020, the most powerful of the many armed groups which then shared two-thirds of the territory had launched an offensive on Bangui shortly before the elections and Mr. Touadéra had called on Moscow to the rescue of his impoverished army.

Hundreds of Russian paramilitaries had then joined the few hundred already present since 2018. It had made it possible, in a few months, to repel the rebels’ offensive, then to drive them back from a large part of the territories and cities they controlled, but without being able to reinstall everywhere and permanently the presence and authority of the Central African State.