UN ‘mistakes’ behind injuries to Egyptian peacekeepers, says Russia

Russia on Friday accused the UN of making “mistakes” in the Central African Republic that led presidential guards to open fire on Egyptian peacekeepers earlier this month, injuring 10 people.

The UN condemned Central African guards for shooting at newly deployed peacekeepers as they traveled by bus near the presidential residence in the capital Bangui on November 1.

Addressing the UN Security Council on Friday, Russian Deputy Ambassador Anna Evstigneeva said the heads of the UN mission in the country, known as Minusca, were responsible for the incident.

“These tragic events were caused by mistakes made by Minusca leaders when transporting people, among other things,” she told council members in New York.

“We must carry out a thorough investigation into the incident.”

She also said she hoped the peacekeepers would “recover soon” and expressed her “solidarity with them”.

A woman was struck and killed by the UN-registered vehicle as it sped away from the scene.

A spokesman for President Faustin Archange Touadera said one of the bus passengers took photos of the building, a “prohibited” act. Guards fired warning shots, some of which injured the passengers, he added.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the shooting and demanded an investigation.

The injuries were the latest in a series of incidents aimed at straining ties between the Central African government and the UN mission, which has accused security forces of repeatedly breaching the two parties’ operational agreement .

The UN has called on the Central African government to sever ties with the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary group linked to the Kremlin, which is responsible for Mr Touadera’s security.

Luis Carrilho, head of the UN police division, said on Friday five peacekeepers remained hospitalized in Bangui and one had been flown to Kampala, Uganda, for treatment.

He said the Central African government’s investigation into the shooting should be “properly conducted”.

“We strongly condemn the incident,” he said in response to a question from The National.

“Shooting against peacekeepers…could be considered a war crime.

Council members renewed the mission’s mandate for one year in a vote on Friday. Russia and China abstained.

CAR, the second poorest country in the world according to UN figures, has been plagued by violence since the Seleka rebel coalition took power in March 2013.

The Central African army, backed by UN peacekeepers, Russian mercenaries and Rwandan troops, has fought the rebels in recent months.

This week, Britain’s UN envoy James Kariuki said the Egyptian losses were a “stark reminder of the difficult circumstances in which we deploy our peacekeepers”.

He praised their “dedication and courage” and said “lessons can be learned” from the incident.

Updated: November 12, 2021, 9:54 p.m.