4 UN security officers detained in Central African Republic

February 22, 2022 GMT

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Four U.N. security officers responsible for close protection of a senior official in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic have been detained, the United Nations said Tuesday.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the four were detained after accompanying the mission’s military chief of staff, Gen. Stéphane Marchenoir, who is French, to the airport in Bangui for a flight Monday. He said they were still being held by the gendarmerie in Bangui on Tuesday.

Dujarric said the mission’s deputy chief and the force commander met with President Faustin Archange Touadera to try to gain their release as quickly as possible.

He condemned what he described as “another disinformation campaign around this incident which is underway on social media in an effort to continue to manipulate public sentiment,” but gave no details.

The Voice of America reported from Bangui that the four U.N. security officers were French soldiers and their arrest sparked false rumors that France had attempted to assassinate Central African Republic’s president.

VOA said the four were arrested after Marhenoir’s plane took off and a half-hour before a plane landed carrying Touadera home from Belgium.