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Russian casualties mounting in CAR

Reports indicate 11 Russian-backed contractors have been killed in the Central Africa Republic (CAR) since August: the first consistent reports of Russians fatalities since their deployment in 2018.

Correlating reports from the CAR-based news agency Corbeau News and the Nigeria-based HumAngle Media, Janes has identified four instances that resulted in the deaths of Russian-backed contractors.

Most recently, on 12 October, five foreign contractors were killed in an ambush laid by rebels in the Bombo area in western CAR. Three contractors were reportedly killed in an ambush near Bombo on 2 October. A contractor was killed when rebels ambushed a convoy near the Cameroonian border on 1 September. A further two Russian-backed contractors were reportedly killed in a rebel ambush in Koui, close to the CAR's border with Cameroon on 5 August.

Russian military contractors have been present in the CAR since 2018, when the UN Security Council approved their deployment to help train and advise Central African Armed Forces (FACA) personnel, as well as transport them to operational areas, provide logistical support, and medical evacuation.

The UN panel of experts that monitors the CAR reported in June that the number of contractors appeared to significantly exceed the authorised deployment and included non-Russians, including Arab speakers. They were also taking an active role in combat operations against rebel militias. It identified seven helicopters – some of them armed – and two An-28 transport aircraft that were being used by the contractors.

Imagery obtained from social media affiliated with the Russian military contractor community also indicates they are equipped with Russian-made Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicles and some light armoured vehicles.

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