Russian journalists killed in Central African Republic ambush

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It plunged into violence after the nation’s longtime leader François Bozize, a Christian, was overthrown in 2013 by a mainly Muslim rebel alliance.

France, the former colonial ruler, intervened militarily to push out the alliance before winding down the operation.

But the president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who succeeded Bozize, controls little of the country beyond the capital Bangui.

He governs with the support of a United Nations force of 13,000 troops and police, one of the biggest peacekeeping missions in the world.

Most of Central African Republic is controlled by militias, many of whom claim to represent Christian or Muslim communities but frequently clash over natural resources and revenue, which includes roadblocks.

Russia has taken on a visible role in the country since December last year, when it was authorised by the UN to provide armed forces with weapons and training.

The delivery was ostensibly aimed at shoring up the beleaguered central government and its chronically weak military – an exemption to a UN arms embargo imposed at the outbreak of conflict in 2013.

Britain, France and the US voiced concern, demanding that deliveries be restricted to light arms and that Russia take steps to provide traceability to prevent the weapons from being sold on the black market.

A UN panel of experts warned on Tuesday that Russia’s weapons supply has sparked an arms race in the country, with rebels turning to traffickers in Sudan for fresh gun shipments.

It is understood that Russia has also signed a range of deals with the government since then, including security for Touadéra. His security adviser is also a Russian.

A spokesman for Central African Republic’s government, Ange Maxime Kazagui, said the ministries for communication and for public security and defence had not issued accreditation to a delegation of Russian journalists.

Central African Republic has launched an investigation into the attack, he said.

This report contains material from AP and AFP

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