An African teen who survived a massacre in a Central African Republic’s (CAR) eastern village recently detailed the alleged abuse and rape she experienced at the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s private army, according to a report.
As per The Daily Beast, on Jan. 16, a group of heavily armed Russian mercenaries drove in, opened fire and burned down houses in the eastern CAR village of Aïgbado, killing more than 70 people and leaving hundreds homeless, including 16-year-old Beatrice.
The report stated that residents who survived the massacre fled to a nearby refugee camp. The Russian mercenaries believed to be hired by the Wagner Group followed them, forced them to stay in the camp against their will and repeatedly raped women.
“For us, it was like we were living in hell. We kept begging them to have mercy on us but they didn’t listen. They made us bleed,” Beatrice recounted in an interview with the publication. “The [local] women were treated worse than those of us who came from far. They were not only sexually abused, but were beaten regularly for no reason. It was as if the women in the town did something wrong,” she added.
The teen girl said that the Russians later took her and five other girls to the town of Bouar where they were further abused and raped. She added that they were taken to an empty room where a few soldiers watched as their colleagues took turns raping the girls.
“They kept us there for weeks and turned us to their slaves,” Ella, another 16-year-old survivor, told the publication. “If any girl said she was pregnant, they’ll just invite a doctor for an abortion. I saw them do it to three girls.” The infamous Wagner Group, often called “Putin’s shadow army,” is believed to have been founded by a 51-year-old former Russian army officer and Chechen war veteran, Dmitri Utkin. The group is also believed to be linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, one of Putin’s closest associates, according to an investigation by BBC.
The Wagner Group first entered the spotlight in 2014 when it joined Russia in the annexation of Crimea. The mercenaries have also served extensively in other locations, including the war in Ukraine where they have been accused of committing war crimes.