Mysterious aircraft dropped bombs near a base for Russia's Wagner Group mercenaries fighting in Central African Republic
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This undated photo, distributed by the French military, shows three Russian mercenaries in northern Mali on the right. French Army via AP
An unidentified aircraft dropped bombs near a Wagner Group base in the Central African Republic.
It was unclear who was targeting the Russia-linked mercenary group that has fighters there.
Wagner personnel were deployed to numerous battlefields, including Ukraine.
A mysterious plane flying from an undisclosed destination this week dropped bombs near a base housing mercenaries from the Russia-linked Wagner Group in Central African Republic, which responded with bursts of fire that startled local residents.
The attack occurred Monday morning local time at a base in Bossangoa, a city in the middle of the country nearly 200 miles north of the capital Bangui, according to multiple reports. It was not immediately known where the plane came from or what company it might belong to, nor was it clear how many casualties the group had suffered.
"Russian paramilitaries showed their outrage very early by shooting in the air from 5 to 6 a.m. At the moment the city is quiet, shops are not yet open and people are afraid to go about their business," said Robert Faradanga, a local journalist told the Associated Press. Witnesses told the outlet that the base and surrounding homes were hit in the attack.
"This despicable act by the enemies of peace will not go unpunished," Information Minister Serge Ghislain Djorie said in a statement, according to the AP. Agence France-Presse reported that the incident caused only property damage.
The United States Africa Command or AFRICOM did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
The Wagner Group is a Kremlin-affiliated private military company founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The mercenary group, notorious for deadly attacks and violations of rights, has represented Moscow's interests in operations on numerous battlefields around the world in recent years.
In the Central African Republic in particular, Russian fighters are collaborating with the country's military. The International Crisis Group, a nonprofit think tank, says as many as 2,000 Wagner militants are in the country and have helped fight rebel groups.
According to an independent United Nations report on human rights abuses in the Central African Republic, Wagner fighters – along with members of the country's armed forces – are held responsible for numerous atrocities and violations of international humanitarian law there alone.
The report, released earlier this year, concludes that Wagner mercenaries have carried out civilian executions, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary assaults, torture and sexual violence, extortion, looting and other forms of abuse across the country.
"Responsibility for dealing with the violations committed by Russian allies lies with the CAR's authorities, who must take the necessary measures," the report said. In addition, Wagner fighters have been accused of atrocities in other African countries - like killing hundreds of civilians in Mali or committing war crimes in Libya.
Beyond Africa, the Wagner Group's notoriety has become increasingly public due to its involvement in Russia's nine-month war in Ukraine. There, Putin has turned to the paramilitary faction to supplement the fighting of his own conventional army - bogged down by an attritional conflict that Moscow began with far-reaching goals.
"Russia has used the private military company Wagner to reinforce front-line troops and alleviate staffing shortages and casualties," Britain's MoD said in a July intelligence update.
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