Rebels Claim Lives in Assault on Mining Town in Central African Republic: Death Toll Reaches Four

On Sunday, insurgents launched an assault on a gold mining town managed by Chinese interests in the Central African Republic, resulting in the deaths of at least four individuals, as reported by local authorities. Maxime Balalu, a spokesperson for the local government, informed The Associated Press that Gaga is a village approximately 125 miles (ca. 201 km) from the capital city of Bangui. The village was targeted by the Coalition of Patriots for Change, a coalition of rebel factions aligned with former President Francois Bozize. Balalu expressed concerns that the casualty count might escalate, noting that among the victims were individuals employed at the nearby mine, with several others sustaining injuries during the attack.

Since 2013, the Central African Republic has been gripped by conflict stemming from the overthrow of President Francois Bozize by predominantly Muslim rebels, met with resistance from mostly Christian militias. Despite a peace agreement brokered in 2019, which initially reduced hostilities, subsequent defections from the accord by six of the 14 armed groups and the emergence of the Coalition of Patriots for Change in 2020 have perpetuated instability.

Despite its considerable mineral resources, including gold and diamonds, the country remains among the poorest. Rebel factions have operated unchecked throughout the nation over the past decade, obstructing foreign mining ventures. Chinese-run operations, in particular, have faced security challenges, exemplified by past incidents such as the killing of nine Chinese nationals at a different gold mine in the Central African Republic last year, attributed to the same rebel alliance. Additionally, in 2020, two Chinese nationals lost their lives during an uprising led by residents against a Chinese-operated mine in Sosso Nakombo.