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Seleka rebels may be behind Russian journalists’ killing in CAR — media

Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguyev and Okhran Dzhemal were captured and murdered some 24 km from Sibut

MOSCOW, August 1. /TASS/. /TASS/. Russian journalists could have been killed in the Central African Republic by members of the Muslim rebel group Seleka, local radio reported on Wednesday citing sources among the authorities.

The Russian Embassy in the Central African Republic said on Tuesday three men were found dead near the city of Sibut (300 kilometers north of the CAR’s capital city Bangui) on July 30. The Russian Foreign Ministry said later the men had press cards featuring the names Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguyev and Okhran Dzhemal.

The bodies were discovered on Tuesday morning by members of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA), the radio reported. "The authorities believe that the murder could have been the work of the Seleka rebels." The staff members of MINUSCA delivered the bodies to Bangui on July 31.

The radio reported citing the CAR authorities that the Russian journalists arrived in Bangui on July 27 and on Monday they headed in an off-roader to the country’s north, first to Dekoa and then to Kaga-Bandoro to make a documentary. The driver was a CAR national. At around 6:00 p.m. on July 30 they were stopped at a roadblock of the national security service when leaving Sibut. The journalists were warned about the danger of driving in the dark time.

Later, some 24 km from Sibut, the journalists were captured and murdered, the radio said. "They were captured by nearly 10 bandits wearing turbans, who spoke only Arabic. Three Russians were killed at the scene. The driver managed to escape and he informed the authorities about the incident at around 5:00 a.m."

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the staff members of the Russian Embassy in Bangui were in close contact with the local law enforcement and governmental bodies to establish all the circumstances of the Russian citizens’ death and carry out the procedures to send their bodies back home. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the relatives would be provided with all the necessary assistance.

The Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal investigation into the murder.

The Central African Republic gained notoriety over numerous coups d’etat and armed conflicts. The domestic political situation deteriorated in 2013 when the Seleka coalition, consisting predominantly of Muslims from the north, took control of Bangui, toppling President Francois Bozize. In response to the militants’ atrocities the Christians and followers of traditional African religions set up the Anti-balaka militia groups, which started pursuing Muslims.

In September 2014, MINUSCA was established consisting of 12,500 troops and police officers. However, clashes continue in the country, in which civilians and peacekeepers are killed.