REUTERS

Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic (CAR) have been robbing and killing civilians, as well as engaging in gang rape practices, says an investigation published by RFI.

Russian mercenaries are fighting on the side of government forces, DW wrote citing the said report.

The investigation is based on eyewitness accounts and documents compiled by the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries.

The probe cites at least 100 cases of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the CAR army together with Russian allies, or solely by Russians, from January 1 to mid-April 2021.

The documents mention 26 extrajudicial executions, 5 rape cases, and 27 arbitrary arrests and imprisonment cases.

Read alsoPMC Wagner: Several Russian mercenaries killed by CAR rebels – mediaFor example, in December 2020, after the CAR army, supported by Russian mercenaries, recaptured from the rebels the city of Bambari, Russians broke into a mosque where both militants and civilians, including women and children, were hiding. Once inside the mosque, the Russians began shooting indiscriminately before executing the three young men on the spot and without due trial.

In addition, after the seizure of Bambari, mass arbitrary arrests began across the city. Those arrested have gone missing, their families told RFI.

In total, from 800 to 2,000 Russian mercenaries are involved in the civil war, which has been raging since 2012, RFI sources say. The Russian embassy in the country admits there are 535 Russian "instructors" on the ground, claiming they do not take direct part in hostilities, except for cases when they are under attack.

However, it was the Russians, many in the CAR believe, who played a decisive role in the government army's counteroffensive in 2020-2021, which allowed the army to recapture from rebels most of major cities, RFI notes.