Russians detained in the Chadian desert call themselves tourists
N’DJAMENA, June 23 (Reuters) – A group of Russians detained by police in a part of northern Chad where the army is fighting a Libyan rebel invasion said on Wednesday that they were tourists visiting the Sahara. . Desert.
The 10 or so Russians were arrested last week by police near the town of Faya Largeau because they were in a military operational zone, according to national police spokesperson Amane Issac Azina.
Azina said they did not break any laws and were not arrested, but rather evacuated to the capital N’Djamena for their own safety.
“We decided this time to visit the Republic of Chad because it is very interesting,” one of the Russians, Alexey Kamerzanov, told Reuters in a hotel in N’Djamena.
“Usually travelers from all over the world don’t visit the Republic of Chad because it is not the normal route in Africa, but I checked and saw that Chad is very rich in natural sites,” he said. he declared.
Among the sites on their route, Kamerzanov said, was the Ennedi Plateau. The plateau is part of the Ennedi massif, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its spectacular rock formations and rock art dating back 7,000 years.
The area where the Russians were arrested is close to where the Chadian army fought rebels in April and May, a conflict that led to the death of President Idriss Deby during a visit to the front lines. The army claimed victory over the rebels in May.
Russia’s presence in Africa has been the subject of much speculation in recent months.
Russia deployed security contractors to neighboring Central African Republic (CAR) in 2018, as part of what analysts say is a strategy to compete with Western armies deployed on the continent.
Three Russians participating in this military mission were killed in an incident in May in which Central African and Chadian troops clashed at a border post. Read more
In Libya, Russian mercenaries are supporting the Libyan national army of the eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, according to a UN expert report.
Report by Mahamat Ramadane; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Angus MacSwan
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