Three Russian journalists were killed in an ambush outside the town of Sibut in Central African Republic, officials in both countries said Tuesday.
The three Russians left the town on Monday night around 7 p.m. and were attacked between two villages about 23 kilometers (14 miles) away, according to Marcelin Yoyo, a Sibut deputy official, APA reports citing the Associated Press.
“Security forces in charge told them not to go because it was already dark,” Yoyo said. “They were kidnapped by about 10 men, all turbaned and speaking only Arabic.”
Yoyo said the journalists were slain on the spot, while their driver fled and informed authorities Tuesday morning.
Vladimir Monteiro, a spokesman for the United Nations mission in Central African Republic, said the victims’ bodies were recovered and taken to a mission hospital in Sibut. He didn’t disclose their nationalities or identities.
The Russian Foreign Ministry identified the slain journalists as Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguyev and Orkhan Dzhemal. The ministry expressed condolences to the families of the dead and said it was working on getting their bodies to Russia.
The ministry said in a statement that the Russian Embassy in the Central African Republic had not been informed the journalists were in the country.
The three had been working on a film in a partnership with an investigative media outlet run by exiled Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Russian media reported they were reporting on a private Russian security company operating in Central African Republic.
A spokesman for Central African Republic’s government, Ange Maxime Kazagui, said the ministries for communication and for public security and defense had not issued accreditation to a delegation of Russian journalists.
Central African Republic has launched an investigation into the attack, he said.
Orkhan Dzhemal is the son of late theologian and politician Geydar Dzhemal.