Wagner Group Accused of Disemboweling Women in the Central African Republic

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EBAM, Cameroon – It was the “most barbaric” act of violence Nas Ali said he had witnessed since the Central African Republic (CAR) welcomed Russian mercenaries from the infamous Wagner group, some called Vladimir Putin’s “private army” to call. years ago.

While conversing with a friend under a mango tree about 50 yards away from his home, and getting a good view of his property from where they both stood in the western CAR village of Bèzèrè, the 32-year-old said he was watching from in the distance as about a dozen Russian paramilitaries, appearing out of nowhere, dragging the wives of two of his neighbors out of the grounds, stabbing them in the stomach, then opening the two women.

“The women were screaming and begging for mercy,” Ali, who now lives as a refugee in Cameroon, told The Daily Beast. “The White Soldiers [as many in CAR refer to Wagner mercenaries as] did not listen. They killed the women and removed their stomachs and intestines.”

The incident took place on December 6 last year, according to Ali and another witness. They said that at least six other women in Bèzèrè were killed in the same way throughout the village.

“When I left the village, I saw the body of a woman who was pregnant,” Malik Tete, a 29-year-old bricklayer who fled Bèzèrè to Cameroon after the incident, told The Daily Beast. “They had cut her open, removed her baby and her entrails, and left her on her dead body.”

After the violence in Bèzèrè, according to Ali and Tete, thousands of people fled the village to Bocaranga, a town about 27 kilometers southeast of Bèzèrè. Many others, including the witnesses, took refuge in refugee settlements in eastern Cameroon.

“We were afraid that these white soldiers would return and kill us all, so we had to leave the village,” said Ali, who fled to the town of Ngaoundere in Cameroon’s central Adamawa region. “If we hadn’t run away, we would probably be dead by now.”

Women were allegedly butchered by the Russians last December not only in Bèzèrè. In the nearby Létélé community, locals told The Daily Beast that they found the guts of four women dead in various locations the day Russian mercenaries stormed the village in search of rebels from the Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation group (3R ).

“I saw with my eyes when a white soldier stabbed a woman with a knife to her stomach,” Bissafi, a 30-year-old farmer who now lives in the CAR capital, Bangui, told The Daily Beast. “They said she was being punished for marrying a man who works for a rebel group.”

Given how the victims were allegedly murdered, the Russians “clearly wanted to torture the women to death,” said Sylvestre, who — like other witnesses living in CAR — chooses to identify himself by his first name to protect him. of possible retaliation.

Those who recognized some of the alleged victims in both Bèzèrè and Létélé said they were women who lived in areas in the two villages where rebels from the 3R faction, one of the CAR’s most powerful armed groups presenting itself as a Fulani self-defense militia, have been active.

“She [Russian mercenaries] believe that all the men in the areas where 3R rebels are present are part of the rebel group,” Souleyman, a local vigilante in Létélé, told The Daily Beast. “Every time they meet people from these areas, they accuse them of supporting the rebels and even physically attacking them.”

Some of the victims, according to Souleyman, who has been in contact with their families and with individuals who witnessed the killings, are wives of young men accused of being “too friendly” with 3R militants.

The 3R group, which is primarily made up of Muslim pastoralists, was originally formed in 2015 to protect the Puehl minority in CAR’s northwest, where conflicts with farmers are returning. In December 2020, the group joined the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), an alliance of CAR armed groups that launched an offensive just before the country’s presidential elections to stop the re-election of President Faustin Archange Touadéra and his government. to overthrow. The rebels are constantly targeting CAR forces and allied Russian paramilitaries who have launched a counter-offensive against the militants in response. But, as some locals have argued, the Russians could now wage war against civilians living in the very communities where these rebels operate.

“It’s sad that she [Russian mercenaries] are now targeting our women,” Djibril, a Bèzèrè-born artisanal miner in the southwestern city of Berbérati, told The Daily Beast. “I know two people whose wives were brutally murdered by this… [Russian] soldiers.”

Neither the CAR government nor Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close friend of President Vladimir Putin who reportedly heads the Wagner Group, responded to The Daily Beast’s request for comment on the alleged cutting open of women in Bèzèrè and Létélé. Emails sent to the spokesperson for the CAR Department of Communications and Media and Concord Management, a company largely owned by Prigozhin, went unanswered.

I have no words to describe what these are [Russian] soldiers have done.

A local official in Ouham prefecture, which covers Bèzèrè and Létélé, told The Daily Beast that the prefecture’s government was aware of the alleged incidents in the two areas and had informed authorities in Bangui.

“No one [in Bangui] has even condemned what has been done to women in the affected communities,” said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak on the subject. “This is such a shame.”

There have been previous reports of Russia-affiliated forces targeting women in the CAR. In May, The Daily Beast reported how Wagner mercenaries allegedly stormed a hospital in the capital Bangui in the previous month, attacking mothers recovering from childbirth, as well as medical personnel caring for them, on multiple occasions. One of the victims was allegedly sexually abused by the mercenaries for hours, according to a local independent news channel who spoke with an eyewitness.

Sources who spoke to The Daily Beast about the alleged incidents said they were shocked that the victims may not even be related to those for whose crimes they were being punished.

“Seeing helpless women begging for their lives and being slaughtered like animals is the worst thing a man can do to a fellow man,” Ali said. “I have no words to describe what this [Russian] soldiers have done.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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