Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Eight renegade soldiers opposing the Central African Republic (CAR) military command have been arrested after being caught looting a private villa, the African Union said on Monday.
The eight soldiers were arrested and their arms and ammunition, including three AK47 rifles and three chargers filled with ammunition, seized after being caught looting near a UN humanitarian base.
The Burundian contingent serving in the International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) apprehended the suspects and impounded a car loaded with the loot.
“The attackers were handed over to the Police Officers from the MISCA component and investigations are underway to identify possible accomplices,” the AU said in a statement.
Investigations revealed the soldiers involved in the looting, which have rocked the restive capital, Bangui for months, were being conducted by a group of soldiers opposing the military hierarchy.
Insecurity in Bangui has severely affected the movement of humanitarian workers.
The Congolese contingent to MISCA also managed to dismantle illegal roadblocks in Nola, erected by fighters loyal to the anti-Balaka rebel group, while on an escort mission.
The Congolese contingent was escorting workers from the French telecom firm, Orange, when they came across a series of road-blocks. The troops managed to collect six short-guns and other arms.
African Union’s Special Envoy to CAR, Jean Marie Mokoko, hailed the existing cooperation between the CAR civilians and the MISCA troops.
“MISCA will spare no efforts to implement its robust mandate to protect civilians and support the transition,” Mokoko said.
Efforts to curb the looting came as a delegation from the European Union (EU) announced their continuing support towards the stabilization of CAR.
In a statement, the EU said the restoration of security and public order remained the immediate priorities to stabilize the country in support of the political process.
It said improving humanitarian coverage and re-launching development assistance were directly linked to positive developments in the security situation.
An essential medium- to long-term objective is the rebuilding of state institutions.
The European Council confirmed the EU’s willingness to use relevant instruments to contribute towards the efforts under way to stabilise the country, including under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), based on a proposal by High Representative Catherine Ashton.
The EU also established the EU military operation to contribute to a secure environment in the CAR based on the UN Security Council resolution 2134 (2014), authorising rapid deployment. The EU provided CAR with support worth more than €100 million in 2013.