A French man believed to be a mercenary was arrested in the Central African Republic on Monday with a large number of weapons and ammunition, local media reported on Tuesday.
The ammunition was found at the home of Juan Remy Quignolot, a former French soldier who has lived in the capital Bangui for several years, according to local news platform Corbeaunews-Centrafrique.
Police reports say Quignolot once trained fighters of the former Seleka coalition. But now, he presents himself as a consultant journalist in Bangui, according to Eric Didier Tombo, the attorney general of the Bangui Court of Appeal.
“This is a police operation. This is a man who was followed by the police department,” he said adding that the police had requested prosecutors order that Quignolot’s home be search.
“From the police sources we have had, it seems that in 2013, he was one of the Seleka supervisors,” Tombo added.
Valery Zakharov, a security adviser to President Faustin-Archange Touadera, tweeted: “A foreign citizen was detained in Bangui today [Monday] with a huge amount of arms and ammunition. An investigation is underway and the circumstances need to be clarified.”
The Seleka coalition was an alliance of rebel militia groups that seized power in the Central African Republic in 2013. After its official dissolution in September 2013, the remaining rebel groups came to be known as ex-Seleka.
Seleka leader Michel Djotodia became the nation’s president from March 2013 until his resignation in January 2014.
The Central African Republic plunged into conflict in 2012, with fighting between the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia and the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition.
Thousands of people have been killed and nearly 575,000 refugees have been displaced, the majority of whom fled to neighboring Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Global Conflict Tracker.
The conflict has also wreaked havoc on the economy, crippling the private sector and leaving nearly 75 percent of the country’s population in poverty.
NEWS/PHOTO SOURCE: Andalou Agency | CFC