18:23 GMT20 April 2021
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    The bodies of three Russian journalists murdered in the Central African Republic (CAR) were sent to Moscow by an Air France flight from Bangui, a spokesperson of the Russian embassy in the country told Sputnik on Friday.

    "Yes, we can confirm that the bodies were sent to Moscow, the plane took off a few minutes ago," the embassy's spokesman said.

    He added that the journalists' bodies would be delivered to Moscow by early Sunday.

    According to the schedule on the website of Bangui International Airport, the flight Air France departed at 5:40 p.m. local time (16:40 GMT). This flight follows to Paris with a landing in Cameroon. The plane will land at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris early on Saturday.

    According to local broadcaster Ndeke Luka, CAR police detained the journalists one day after their arrival in Bangui due to their conflict with local residents.

    The publication said that on Saturday, July 28, the two registered at a local hotel as teachers, and the third — as a journalist. They had journalist's equipment with them. On Sunday, they started to take photos of a group of young sellers in front of the hotel without their consent, the latter became angry and called the police, all three were detained, their passports were confiscated. Later, they were released.

    The hotel staff also said that journalists left the hotel on Toyota Hillux 4x4 pickup truck early on Monday.

    The CAR has been suffering from sectarian clashes between the Muslims and the Christians since the 2013 coup, when the Muslim Seleka rebels seized control in the country, overthrowing then President Francois Bozize, provoking a backlash from the Christian Anti-Balaka militia. The United Nations estimates that over 1,000 people were killed in the conflict.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry's consular department said it had earlier published recommendations on its website saying that CAR law enforcement forces were practically not functioning and that one does not have to expect their assistance in case of trouble.

    The crime situation in the Central African Republic is complex, armed robberies, killings and attacks on foreigners are regular, and therefore visiting the country involves a lot of risks and is highly undesirable, the department said.

    On Monday night, Russian nationals Kyrill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguev and Orkhan Dzhemal, who worked for the Russian opposition figure Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s investigative media outlet, were killed near the CAR city of Sibut.

    The Russian Investigative Committee has already opened a criminal investigation into the case. According to Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, preliminary information shows that robbery was the motive behind the armed attack on Russian journalists.


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