People in military uniform, claimed to be soldiers of Russian mercenary group Wagner pose for a picture believed to be in a salt mine in Soledar


  • Men dressed in the same military attire worn by Wagner fighters stormed a mine in CAR
  • An explosion was heard from the mine followed by gunshots
  • 9 Chinese miners were killed while two others sustained bullet wounds

Members of Russia's infamous Wagner private military company (PMC) are being accused of shooting and killing nine Chinese mines amid a partnership between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, according to a report.

The shooting incident happened at the Chimbolo gold mine in the Central African Republic (CAR) on Sunday. Men dressed in the same military attire worn by Wagner mercenaries pulled up near the mine around 5 a.m. local time and ordered the men patrolling the area to leave, Zaza, the leader of a vigilante unit guarding the area, told The Daily Beast. A few minutes later, Zaza said he and his group heard a loud explosion at the mine, followed by gunshots.

"We could even hear the sounds of people screaming at the gold mine. It sounded as if they were crying for help," he said.

The Wagner fighters reappeared from the mines an hour later and drove away, prompting Zaza's group to rush to the mine where they found the bodies of the Chinese miners.

"We counted nine dead bodies of Chinese men," another member of the vigilante group said, according to the outlet. "Two other Chinese men, as well as a Central African soldier, had bullet wounds mostly on their hands and legs but were still alive when we saw them."

Following the incident, the Russian-allied CAR government blamed the "terrorist act" on the rebel group Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC). The group, in turn, blamed Wagner fighters. The mercenary group has yet to claim or deny responsibility for the killings.

The shooting incident happened a day before Xi's state visit to Moscow. The allegation that the Wagner group may have carried out the killings could put a strain on the relationship between China and Russia, especially as the former has continued to provide non-lethal aid to Moscow amid its invasion of Ukraine.

Shortly before landing in Russia, Xi condemned the killings and called for the culprits to be "brought to justice," as per a statement released by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. It is unclear if the incident was brought up and discussed during Putin and Xi's Monday meeting.

Wagner fighters in Bakhmut
A still image taken from video apparently shows Wagner fighters on top of a building in Bakhmut CONCORD PRESS SERVICE/Reuters