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Russian Mercenaries Seek Gold, Sow Chaos in Central Africa

  • Witnesses say 100 people have been killed so far this year
  • US says fighters focused on gold-rich area in war-torn country

The Central African Republic is defending the use of Russian assistance to take back territory the government says rebels have illegally occupied, despite widespread claims of indiscriminate killings of civilians and looting of mining sites.

Albert Yaloke Mokpeme, spokesman for the CAR presidency, denied in a written response to questions from Bloomberg that fighters from the Wagner Group, which the US says is linked to the Kremlin, operate in the country. He disputed claims made to Bloomberg by artisanal miners, rebels and humanitarians, and allegations in United Nations reports that mercenaries alongside the national army have killed scores of people, looted communities and displaced thousands as they increase their control of gold-mining areas in the war-torn country.