Two French citizens arrested in C.Africa: Diplomatic source

AFP , Thursday 13 Jun 2024

Two French citizens have been arrested in the Central African Republic, a French diplomatic source told AFP Thursday, with local media suggesting the two were "mercenaries" found with large quantities of weapons and currency.

File photo: A general view shows a part of the capital Bangui, Central African Republic, February 16, 2016. Reuters


"We have learned of the arrest of two French citizens in Bangui," the Central African Republic's capital, the source said.

"Our embassy is working to make sure they receive consular protection," it added.

Local EU-funded Radio Ndeke Luka reported that the men, both Franco-Algerian, were arrested on Monday.

Privately owned Ndjoni Sango newspaper reported that a search of the men's lodgings -- located near the French ambassador's residence -- revealed "military weapons of the AK-47 type, large-calibre ammunition, grenades, military ballistic helmets, tens of millions of CFA francs, passports from different countries and military clothing".

A source from the French embassy told Radio France Internationale (RFI) that the two men had been registered as living in Bangui since 2017.

Citing several sources, RFI added that the pair were "involved in the mining sector with foreign business players, but also important Central African political figures, which had granted them close protection until now".

Ndjoni Sango said the men were in constant contact with leaders of armed groups and Central African military officers.

Neither the government in Bangui nor Algiers immediately commented on the reports.

Last month, a Belgian-Portuguese dual national working as a consultant for an American aid group was arrested in the CAR's southeast.

He is being investigated for a "plot" against the state in conjunction with rebel "armed groups", Bangui prosecutors have said.

The CAR is one of Africa's poorest countries and has been wracked by a series of civil wars, coups and authoritarian regimes since its independence from France in 1960.

Multiple rebel and armed groups contest the government's control of the country.

CAR armed forces are supported by mercenaries from Russia's Wagner private military company, or its successor known as Africa Corps.

Russia has gradually edged out France in the CAR and other former colonies as resentment against Paris has grown.

In Bangui, Moscow is a major security partner for the government, while the last French troops left in December 2022.

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