Frenchman who claimed to be a journalist arrested in CAR after discovery of weapons cache
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CAPE TOWN - A Frenchman who claimed to be a journalist has been arrested in the Central African Republic after an arsenal of weapons was discovered in his home, Radio France Internationale reported on Tuesday.
A government spokesperson told the French news agency AFP that the man, who claimed to be a journalist, was detained in the capital Bangui on Monday.
According to humanitarian sources, the man had worked as a bodyguard for several organisations in the CAR, which is fighting an armed rebellion seeking to overthrow the government.
The man was detained with "huge amounts of weapons and ammunition", the Russian national security adviser to President Faustin Archange Touadéra, Valery Zakharov, said on Twitter.
Russia has deployed hundreds of paramilitaries from the private security companies to the CAR to support government forces against rebel groups.
A diplomatic source told AFP the man had done "a short stint" in the army during his youth.
The CAR is one of the African countries that is troubled by armed violence caused by political instability.
The Central Africa nation has experienced conflict since 2013 when predominantly Muslim rebels known as Seleka removed former President Francois Bozize from power, plunging the country into violence and instability when their brutal rule gave rise to the anti-Balaka Christian militias.
This violence escalated in the run-up to last December’s presidential election as the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) rebels, led by Bozize, launched a series of attacks nationwide and took control of some towns.
A surge in violence has forcibly displaced over 276,000 people within the country since mid-December. Thousands are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, including Cameroon, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), to meet the most urgent needs in 2021, humanitarian partners plan to assist 1.84 million people for which they will require US$444.7 million.
The agency said that in 2021, 2.8 million Central Africans, more than half of the population, will need humanitarian assistance and protection.
– African News Agency