Congo: Russian Mercenaries Seek Gold And Diamonds

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December 8, 2022: In CAR (the Central African Republic) Russian mercenaries appear to have gone into the blood diamond business. Since 2018 Russia has acknowledged it has military trainers and mercenaries in the CAR. The Russian mercenary Wagner Group operates in the country. A private security company associated with Wagner, Sewa Security Services, is also in the CAR. There is evidence that Sewa Security Services is linked to two companies suspected of exploiting gold and diamond mines in the CAR. Investigators assert that one of the companies, Diamville, is an “alias for Wagner '' in the CAR. Midas Resources, another company believed to be affiliated with Wagner’s founder and leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has a 25 year-long concession on the CAR’s Ndissima gold mine. The concession was awarded after the CAR government expropriated the mining concession from a Canadian firm. The report also alleges Russian mercenaries have looted gold and diamond mines, engaged in smuggling operations and are also involved in illegal sales of “conflict minerals'' (in this case gold and diamonds). Further investigations traced some of the diamonds to a firm in the UAE, which sold the diamonds and took a commission for that.

In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) M23 (March 23 Movement) rebels are accused of massacring 272 civilians in the town of Kishishe. The murders occurred November 29. The government also accused soldiers in the Rwandan Army of participating in the slaughter. The government also reported that M23 fighters murdered children inside a church and a hospital in Kishishe. On December 2 a battle between M23 and local militias occurred in Kishishe. M23 claimed 21 of its fighters were killed in a fight near Kishishe with “an enemy coalition” and eight civilians died in the crossfire. M23 is a predominantly Congolese Tutsi militia. M23 contends it is defending Congolese Tutsis against ethnic Hutu militias operating in eastern Congo. Rwandan Tutsis are the dominant ethnic group in Rwanda; hence the allegations Rwanda supports M23. Rwanda denies it supports M23. However, Rwanda accuses the Congolese Army of working with the FDLR (Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), which is manned by radical ethnic Hutus who were involved in the 1994 genocide of Rwandan Tutsis. M23 currently controls several chunks of territory in North Kivu province. Eastern Congo has globally significant deposits of tin, gold and coltan (tantalum). It is believed M23 rebels intend to capture the North Kivu city of Goma and then negotiate with the Congolese government for political concessions that benefit Congolese Tutsis. (Austin Bay)

December 1, 2022: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) fighting between the army and M23 rebels in the village of Kishishe left 50 people dead. Many of the deaths were caused by artillery fire.

November 30, 2022: In western Uganda, the Ebola outbreak that began in September has seen a decline in cases because of rapid medical response. Reported cases have declined but despite that decline, Uganda has closed schools nation-wide in an attempt to curb the spread of the Ebola virus. In November eight children died from Ebola in Uganda. The spread of Ebola to neighboring Congo seems to have been halted.

November 29, 2022: The government of the CAR has threatened to retaliate for a pre-dawn air attack on a military base in the town of Bossangoa. One aircraft dropped at least four bombs were dropped on an old cotton processing plant now housing Russian military contractors and CAR military personnel. The bombs caused minimal damage but a near miss destroyed one civilian home. CAR believes the plane flew from Chad, which is just north of Bossangoa. Chad has supported anti-government groups operating in northern CAR. In May 2021 the Chad government claimed CAR soldiers committed atrocities when they attacked a Chad border post and killed six Chadian soldiers. In early 2021 Chad charged CAR soldiers with "war crimes" over the killing of six of its soldiers at a border post.

November 25, 2022: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) Congo and Rwanda announced a ceasefire that will begin on December 2nd. M23 rebels will withdraw from positions north of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. Soldiers from Uganda and Kenya will enforce the ceasefire. Eventually contingents from Burundi and South Sudan, two other East African Community (EAC) countries, will participate in the EACRF (East African Community Regional Force) peacekeeping operation in Congo.

November 24, 2022: In Malawi, police arrested the stepson of a former Malawi president Peter Mutharika. This is in connection with the discovery of a mass grave last month. Malawi police reported that Tadikira Mafubza turned himself in after police discovered a mass grave containing 30 bodies. Investigators have evidence that the bodies belong to Ethiopian immigrants using a people smuggling operation to illegally transport them through Malawi to South Africa. Police have recovered temporary travel documents with the victims’ names. They have also impounded a vehicle used in the operation. The mass grave was found in a thick forest outside a populated area.

November 22, 2022: Uganda agreed to send 1,000 Ugandan Army soldiers to eastern Congo to help enforce a pending ceasefire in the region. The Ugandans will operate with a Kenyan contingent as elements of the EACRF. The Kenyan unit deployed on November 12.

November 18, 2022: Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta met with Rwandan president Paul Kagame. The two men then announced they agree that M23 rebels must accept a ceasefire and then withdraw from eastern Congo.

November 17, 2022: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) over a thousand M23 rebels advanced to positions 20 kilometers from Goma where they seized the town of Kibumba. This M23 force contains most of the known M23 members. Goma’s two million residents are reportedly suffering from food and fuel shortages.

November 15, 2022: In the Central African Republic the UN agreed to renew the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force for another year.

November 13, 2022: In Kenya, EAC (East African Community) leaders met and announced they will hold talks on November 21 with the goal of ending the war in eastern Congo.

November 12, 2022: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) a battalion of 903 Kenyan soldiers began deploying in the area as part of the EACRF peacekeeping force. The Kenyan troops will be reinforced with two army battalions from Uganda, two from Burundi and one from South Sudan. The EACRF is commanded by the Kenyan general leading the Kenyan unit troops.

November 11, 2022: Congolese soldiers used artillery against M23 positions along the Rwandan border.

November 10, 2022: Burundi reopened its border with Rwanda for the first time in seven years. Burundi closed the border following an attempted coup.

November 9, 2022: in western Congo (Mai-Ndombe province) there was renewed fighting between Yaka and Teke tribesmen when at least 20 people were killed when a group of Yaka men armed with rifles attacked the Teke village of Boku.

November 8, 2022: In Congo the National Assembly Legislature is asked the world to declare M23 rebels a terrorist group.

November 7, 2022: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) a Congolese Su-25 fighter jet entered Rwandan air space. Rwanda called it a provocation. The Su-25 quickly turned around and Congo called the incident an accident. Congo claimed the plane was on an unarmed recon mission along the Congolese side of the border.

November 6, 2022: Congo has begun training 3,000 new military recruits. The soldiers will reinforce the Congolese Army in eastern Congo. Meanwhile, Angola mediated talks between Congo and Rwanda aimed at ending the conflict in eastern Congo.

November 4, 2022: Uganda claimed Ugandan warplanes attacked and destroyed an ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) base in eastern Congo. ADF considers itself part of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and justifies its use of slavery and brutal forms of execution by claiming to be defending Islam from Christians. Over 90 percent of Congolese are Christian.

November 1, 2022: In eastern Congo (North Kivu province) civilians in a village eight kilometers from Goma attacked a UN peacekeeping convoy. The crowd threw stones and burned one vehicle. Two people were injured.

 

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