Connect with us

Central Africa News

UN launches investigation into ‘Russian soldier torture’ in CAR

A man from the city of Bambari was held by Russians and repeatedly tortured, according to the UN report

News Central

Published

on

A Central African soldier trains with the AK47 assault weapon on the European launch pad at Camp Kassai, in Bangui - AFP

The UN has launched an investigation into suspected cases of torture by Russian soldiers or mercenaries in Central African Republic after an internal report said at least one civilian had been detained and abused by Russians.

A man from the central city of Bambari was held by Russians and repeatedly tortured for five days, according to the UN report, including having his back slashed with a knife and having his little finger cut off. 

The report, dated January 15 and seen by AFP, contains photos showing scars on the man’s back and his mutilated hand. 

In an interview with AFP in the capital Bangui on Tuesday, the man — who said he was a market trader called Mahamat Nour Mamadou — described the extent of the torture and said he feared for his life.

“They tortured me from 8am to 5pm. They hit me with chains, iron batons, they cut me in the foot with a knife, and also on the arms and the shoulder. They broke a tooth with a brick,” Mamadou said.

He revealed deep scars and bruises on his legs, arms and shoulders, as well as traces of marks around his wrists and ankles where he was bound.

His little finger had been cut off and his other fingers were streaked with scars.

Mamadou said he was detained on January 11 by soldiers of the Central African Armed Forces (FACA) after a crowd falsely accused him of belonging to the Seleka militia — a mainly Muslim rebel movement which rose up in 2012 in the north of the country.

“They took me to the town hall where the FACA and the Russians are based. The Russians questioned me, they asked me if I was a Seleka, if I had weapons,” he said. 

In 2013 the Seleka overthrew President Francois Bozize, a Christian, plunging the country into crisis before the group was forced from power.

“They tied my hands and covered my head with a jacket, they punched me. They tied me up during the night. Then they took me to their base,” said Mamadou.

“They took a big knife and cut off my finger. They slashed my other fingers too, then they strangled me with a chain,” he said, adding that there was one FACA interpreter and several Russians.

The UN says Mamadou was released on January 15 thanks to the intervention of the Internal Security Forces (FSI). 

UN officials say they have begun an inquiry.

Russia’s influence in CAR has been growing since 2017, when the UN-backed government there called for help to fight militias rampaging through the country.

Moscow has already supplied weapons, military officers, at least 170 military “trainers” and a security adviser to work with President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

According to reports in Russian and Western media, the military trainers are mercenaries with close ties to Russian mining companies and the numbers deployed could be significantly higher than officially reported.

Last month, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian criticised the presence of Russian mercenaries in CAR from the private military company Wagner.

Three Russian journalists who were investigating the Wagner group were ambushed and murdered in CAR last year.

A peace agreement between the government of CAR and 14 armed groups was agreed earlier this month in a bid to bring peace to the unstable country.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Central Africa News

Ex-health minister arrested for embezzling Ebola funds in DR Congo

Ilunga, who resigned as health minister in July, was detained while hiding in an apartment in Kinshasa

Published

on

DR Congo's health minister resigns after removal from key Ebola response role
Former DR Congo health minister Oly Ilunga. (AFP)

Former DR Congo health minister Oly Ilunga has been arrested over allegations he embezzled public funds to tackle the Ebola epidemic, police said on Saturday.

Ilunga, who resigned as health minister in July after being removed as head of the country’s Ebola response team, was detained while hiding in an apartment in the capital Kinshasa ahead of a bid to flee the country, officers said.

He is in custody due to “misdemeanors of the mismanagement of funds allocated to the Ebola response,” police spokesman Colonel Pierrot-Rombaut Mwanamputu told AFP.

Ilunga will be referred to prosecutors on Monday, he added.

It comes after Ilunga was questioned in August as part of an inquiry into the management of funds to fight the outbreak, which has claimed more than 2,000 lives since August 2018.

Ilunga, 59, had already been banned from leaving the country.

He stepped down after criticising plans by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO) to introduce a new, unlicensed vaccine to fight the epidemic.

His lawyer told AFP in September that some payments had been made to local chiefs after the killing of a WHO doctor in April.

More than 200,000 people have been vaccinated during DR Congo’s tenth and most serious Ebola epidemic.

It is the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history after more than 11,000 people were killed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia between 2014 and 2016.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Central Africa News

Dozens feared dead in DR Congo train derailment

Witnesses at the scene and local media feared a hundred people could have been killed

Published

on

Dozens feared dead in DR Congo train derailment
(File photo)

A freight train derailed in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo early Thursday, killing stowaway passengers who were riding on it, in the latest rail tragedy to strike the nation, officials said.

But in a chaotic situation, estimates of the death toll varied widely, from 10 to a hundred.

“Another disaster! Derailing at 3 am (01:00 GMT) in Tanganyika (province) near Mayibaridi. Provisional toll: 50 dead and several injured,” the minister for humanitarian action, Steve Mbikayi, said in a tweet.

In contrast, the provincial governor, Zoe Kabila, who is the brother of former President Joseph Kabila, issued a tweet that said, “Correction… provisional toll 10 dead, 30 injured and three railcars overturned.”

But witnesses at the scene and local media feared a hundred people could have been killed.

READ: 24 dead in DR Congo train derailment

Victor Umba, the union head of the national rail company SNCC, said the freight train was travelling from the town of Nyunzu to the town of Niemba when two railcars fell on their sides, crushing many people underneath.

“Those who died in this derailment were stowaways. It is impossible for the SNCC to provide any kind of toll,” Umba told reporters.

He added that the SNCC’s chief was in the provincial capital of Kalemie trying to find a way to raise the carriages.

“It seems that many stowaways are trapped under the derailed carriages”.

Railways in the DRC have a poor record for safety, hampered by derelict tracks and decrepit locomotives, many of them dating from the 1960s.

In March, at least 24 people were killed and 31 were injured Sunday when a freight train carrying illegal passengers crashed in the central region of Kasai.

In November last year, 10 stowaways were killed and 24 injured near the eastern town of Samba when the brakes failed on a freight train.

In November 2017, 35 people were killed when a freight train carrying 13 oil tankers plunged into a ravine in southern Lualaba province.

Like many state companies in DR Congo, the SNCC is on the brink of bankruptcy.

READ: Train collision kills 13, injures others in Congo

After Kabila stepped down in January, its employees urged his successor, Felix Tshisekedi, to pay months of back wages. Its former head Sylvestre Ilunga is the country’s current prime minister.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Central Africa News

2 journalists arrested in Equatorial Guinea for interviewing a suspended judge

Melanio Nkogo and Ruben Dario Bacale were picked up a week ago after broadcasting an interview with a judge, Nazario Oyono

Published

on

2 journalists arrested in Equatorial Guinea for interviewing a suspended judge

Two journalists working for a private TV station in Equatorial Guinea are being held by police after they interviewed a suspended judge, sources told reporters on Wednesday.

The country has one of the world’s worst records for media rights, ranking 165th out of 180 on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Raul Obiang, head of news for Asonga TV, said journalists Melanio Nkogo and Ruben Dario Bacale were picked up a week ago after broadcasting an interview with a judge, Nazario Oyono.

Oyono was suspended on August 21 by the President of the Supreme Court for “irregularities.”

The pair are being held in the central police station in the town of Bata, Raul Obiang said.

He quoted the deputy head of security there as saying the two were being held because “they did work they shouldn’t have done.”

RSF called on the authorities to free the pair, adding that their arrest “shows the extreme vulnerability of journalists” working in Equatorial Guinea.

It recalled the case of noted cartoonist Ramon Nse Esono Ebale, who was jailed for five months before being released in March 2018.

Asonga is the only privately-owned TV and radio station in Equatorial Guinea, which has been run by iron-fisted President Teodoro Obiang Nguema for 40 years.

The station’s owner is his son, Teodorin Nguema Obiang, who many say is being groomed for succession.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Trending