Three journalists murdered while on assignment in the Central African Republic will be returned to Russia.
The motive to kill renowned war correspondent Orkhan Dzhemal, documentary filmmaker Alexander Rastorguyev and cameraman Kirill Radchenko remains unclear after the group’s vehicle came under attack on Monday night.
The BBC reports the convoy was stopped at a roadblock while driving at night, an activity regarded as unsafe in the country. One eyewitness said the vehicle was then ambushed by men, all wearing turbans and speaking Arabic.
A Russian government spokesman said that the men had then been shot near the town of Sibut, 300 kilometers north of the capital Bangui. One died on the spot while the others died later of their wounds. The driver managed to escape and raise the alarm.
The trio had been in the Central African Republic as freelancers looking into reports fighters from a Russian private military company, the Wagner Group, were operating in the country.
The reason for the attack nor the identity of the killers is clear. According to Interfax news agency, robbery could have been a motive.
The work of war correspondent Orkhan Dzhemal, 51, was highly regarded in his homeland. He had extensive experience covering conflicts in Libya, Syria, eastern Ukraine and South Ossetia for networks like Novaya Gazeta, Izvestia and Kommersant. Kirill Radchenko, 33, was a promising cameraman who had worked in Chechnya and more recently in Syria with the Anna news agency.
Meanwhile Alexander Rastorguyev, 47, was well known for his work documenting the conflict in eastern Ukraine as well as internet documentaries on Russia’s opposition protests in 2011 and 2012.
Russian Charge D’affaires in the Central African Republic Viktor Tokmakov told state media agency Tass he expected the bodies to be returned to Russia on Friday.
He said the bodies were currently being held in the mortuary of the Amitie Hospital in the African capital.