Swedish safari guide held by police in Africa
Published: 26 Apr 12 12:04 CET
The Swedish head of a safari company in the Central African Republic and ten of his staff have been arrested after 13 miners were found murdered in the northeast of the country, local police said Wednesday.
“It is certainly not a very nice situation,” the man’s wife told daily Expressen.
The Swede, a professional hunter who heads the Central African Wildlife Adventures company, and his employees "were detained this month in Bakuma and Bangassu and taken to Bangui," police said, after the bodies of 13 miners who had been working in Ngungunza had been discovered on March 29th.
According to the man’s wife, the Swedes had nothing to do with the incident.
“In the southern part of our hunting grounds there is a place where they pan gold in a stream. We were building roads in that area, and we had some employees from central Africa working with us. They went down to the stream to fetch water and found dead people. They called my husband and asked him what to do,” the man’s wife told daily Expressen.
Her husband telephoned an Englishman who was closer to the site and asked him to go there and check what had happened. The reports were grim and the Swedes, suspecting that an atrocity had been committed, called the authorities in the nearest village.
The Swede then travelled to the site to see what could be done.
“The day after, a rumour started to flourish in the village of Bakouma, saying that we were involved in some way, that he had given the order. There was a riot and one of our trucks was set alight,” the wife told the paper.
The day after, the Swede travelled to the capital to talk to authorities. There he was arrested pending the investigation.
Photos of the dead men showed them to have been bound with their hands behind their backs and beaten or stabbed to death, police said.
"Some witness statements have directly implicated the firm," according to police who said however it was too soon to draw conclusions.
According to the man’s wife there have been investigations.
“They have arrested the Englishman and eleven of our employees from Central Africa. But there are no official allegations or report,” she said to the paper.
The organization Human Rights Watch wrote on their website that they have documented several attacks in the region, suspected to having been carried out by The Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group, “including a massacre of 13 artisanal gold diggers in the Cawa Safari camp area around March 20”.
The group says that further investigations will be required to determine if the attack was carried out by the LRA or not, although the massacre resembled previous LRA attacks in Congo.
“The victims were beaten to death with machetes and pieces of wood. Some were tied up or stripped naked before they were killed. The LRA is the only armed group suspected to have been active in the camp area recently,” the organization wrote.
The Swedish foreign ministry has confirmed that a Swedish man is being held by local police.
“Someone from the embassy has visited the man who is reported to be feeling well under the circumstances. He has also been given a lawyer,” said Pia Roed of the embassy to the paper.
The man was born and raised in the Central African Republic, but is a Swedish citizen, as is his wife and two children.
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