Central African Republic rebels storm mine; 9 Chinese killed
Local official in Central African Republic says nine Chinese nationals were killed in attack blamed on rebels
BANGUI, Central African Republic — Suspected rebels stormed a recently opened Chinese-operated gold mining site in the Central African Republic, killing nine Chinese nationals and injuring two others on Sunday, authorities said.
The attack came just days after gunmen abducted three Chinese nationals in the west of the country near the border with Cameroon, prompting President Faustin Archange Touadera to visit China to try to reassure investors.
The attack on the Chimbolo gold mine began around 5 a.m. when the gunmen overpowered the site guards and opened fire, said Abel Matipata, mayor of nearby Bambari town. The launch of the mining site had taken place a few days earlier, he added.
Local authorities said they were pursuing the attackers, but declined to comment further. Residents said the violence was the latest incident undermining trust in the security forces.
“The government is struggling to prove its ability to protect Central Africans and foreigners living in the country,” said Bambari resident Ange Morel Gbatangue.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but suspicion fell on the Coalition of Patriots for Change, or CPC, which is active in the region and regularly launches attacks against the country’s armed forces. The alliance of rebel groups is aligned with former President François Bozizé.
Anselme Bangue, who supports the current president’s administration, said the attack on the Chinese businessmen was an act of “indescribable cowardice”.
“The CCP has not only slowed down the country’s economic momentum, but is now attacking the foundations of development. This is unacceptable,” Bangue said.
The Central African Republic remains one of the poorest countries in the world despite its vast mineral wealth of gold and diamonds among others. A myriad of rebel groups have operated with impunity across the beleaguered country over the past decade, thwarting mineral exploration by foreign companies.
Many of those currently operating in the country are Chinese-led and have faced security challenges. In 2020, two Chinese nationals died when local residents led an uprising against a Chinese-operated mine in Sosso Nakombo. And in 2018, three Chinese citizens were killed by angry community members after a local leader died in a boating accident while accompanying Chinese miners to a site.
Krista Larson contributed to this story from Dakar, Senegal.