The U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic has rejected accusations that four of its personnel who were arrested Monday were engaged in suspicious activity. The C.A.R.’s public prosecutor said the four men, arrested at the airport shortly before the arrival of the country’s president, were heavily armed.
The U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSCA, is demanding the release of the four peacekeepers, all French soldiers.
C.A.R. authorities have not filed any charges against the men, but the country’s public prosecutor said on national radio that an investigation is open on the case.
He said the four men “were arrested aboard a suspicious vehicle… carrying a heavy military arsenal.”
Right after the arrest, messages on social media accused the peacekeepers of planning to assassinate C.A.R. President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, whose plane was about to land at the airport.
MINUSCA spokesperson Vladimir Monteiro dismissed the accusations during a press conference on Wednesday.
"We have nothing to hide, he said. MINUSCA is here as a partner, as a friend. What’s said on social media is disinformation," he said. "MINUSCA regrets the incident of Monday, February 21st and condemns again the intent to manipulate public opinion and firmly rejects the accusations of attacking state security."
The four military personnel remain in police custody, but they are being treated well, says a source at the U.N. peacekeeping mission.
The C.A.R. government has refused to comment the case.