The United Nations says it is working to secure the release of four members of its peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic who were arrested earlier this week.
The four French military personnel were arrested Monday at the airport in the capital, Bangui, where they had been escorting French General Stephane Marchenior, the chief of staff of the U.N. peacekeeping mission known as MINUSCA.
Marchenior was at the airport for a time Monday before C.A.R. President Faustin Archange Touadera was due to return from a trip to Belgium.
After Marchenior departed, the four soldiers were arrested. President Touadera’s plane landed a half-hour after the arrests.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York Tuesday the peacekeeping mission is in touch with the C.A.R. government to secure the release of the four security personnel.
The soldiers remained in custody Tuesday, and police have not given a reason for their arrest. However, pictures of the French soldiers, their U.N. identifications and their military equipment have flooded social media accounts across Africa, along with a message accusing France of attempting to assassinate Touadera.
A Central African website known for its ties with Russian interests in Bangui was among the sites posting the allegations.
The French embassy in Bangui and the U.N. mission in the C.A.R. condemned what they called a “misinformation campaign.”
U.N. spokesman Dujarric said the campaign is an “effort to continue to manipulate public sentiment.”
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.