A deployment of Russian guns-for-hire, with links to the Kremlin, has sustained casualties in its fight against Islamist militants in Mozambique, multiple sources have told CNN.
In another example of Russia’s growing reach into Africa, dozens of private military contractors are aiding the Mozambique army which is battling an insurgency in its northernmost province.
The mercenaries in this resource-rich southern African country appear associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin, a St. Petersburg oligarch so close to the Kremlin that he is known as President Vladimir Putin’s “chef.”
Prigozhin, whose reach in the region stretches into Sudan, Libya and the Central African Republic, is thought to be the financier of the Wagner group, hundreds of whose fighters have also been deployed into Syria. His companies have been previously sanctioned by the US Treasury Department for their actions in Syria and his financing of the Internet Research Agency, which was responsible for Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 US elections.
Prigozhin has routinely denied any connection to Wagner.