Mysterious aircraft dropped bombs near a base for Russia's Wagner Group mercenaries fighting in Central African Republic

This undated photograph handed out by French military shows three Russian mercenaries, right, in northern Mali.
This undated photograph handed out by French military shows three Russian mercenaries, right, in northern Mali.French Army via AP
  • An unknown aircraft dropped bombs near a Wagner Group base in the Central African Republic.

  • It was unclear who targeted the Russia-linked mercenary group, which has fighters there.

  • Wagner personnel have been deployed to numerous battlefields, including in Ukraine.

A mysterious aircraft that flew from an unknown destination dropped bombs this week near a base housing Russia-linked Wagner Group mercenaries in the Central African Republic, who responded with bursts of weapons fire that scared local residents.

The attack occurred Monday morning local time at a base in Bossangoa, which is a town located in the middle of the country, nearly 200 miles north of the capital city Bangui, according to multiple reports. It was not immediately known where the aircraft came from, or from which entity it may belong to, nor was it clear how many casualties the group suffered.

"The Russian paramilitaries showed their indignation very early by shooting in the air from 5 to 6 o'clock. For the moment the city is quiet, the shops are not yet open and people are afraid to go about their business," 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 perpetrated 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 only caused material damage.

United States Africa Command, or AFRICOM, did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

The Wagner Group is a Kremlin-linked private military contractor founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Notorious for carrying out deadly attacks and rights violations, the mercenary group has represented Moscow's interests in operations on numerous battlefields around the world in recent years.

Specifically, in the Central African Republic, the Russian fighters work with the country's military. The International Crisis Group, a non-profit think tank, says up to 2,000 Wagner fighters are in the country and have helped to combat rebel groups. 

According to an independent United Nations report on human rights violations in the Central African Republic, Wagner fighters — along with members of the country's armed forces — have been blamed for numerous atrocities and violations of international humanitarian law there alone. 

The report, which was published earlier this year, concludes that Wagner mercenaries have carried out civilian executions, extrajudicial killings, indiscriminate attacks, acts of torture and sexual violence, extortion, lootings, and other forms of abuse throughout the country.

"The responsibility for addressing the violations committed by the Russian allies falls to the authorities of the Central African Republic, who must take the necessary measures," the report said. Additionally, Wagner fighters have been accused of atrocities in other African nations — 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 as a way to supplement the struggles of his own conventional army — bogged down by a grinding conflict that Moscow began with sweeping aims.

"Russia has used private military company Wagner to reinforce front-line forces and to mitigate manning shortfalls and casualties," Britain's defense ministry shared in a July intelligence update.

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