The Central African Republic (CAR) released four French soldiers arrested on suspicion of planning to assassinate President Faustin Archange Touadera.
“The 4 staff members of MINUSCA arrested at Bangui airport have just been released. The Mission extends sympathy to them,” Mankeur Ndiaye, the UN chief’s special envoy in CAR and head of the mission, said on Twitter.
“The United Nations will continue to ensure the protection of its assets and personnel in all circumstances,” he added.
The arrest of the soldiers, members of the MINUSCA peacekeeping force in the CAR, had sparked condemnation from the UN.
The soldiers who had accompanied Gen. Stephane Marchenior, a French officer heading the MINUSCA force, to the airport were caught at the airport in the capital Bangui on Monday on allegations of “undermining state security.”
Marchenior was catching a flight out of CAR just before President Touadera was due to return from a trip to Belgium.
The four soldiers were found in a “suspicious” vehicle with weapons, according to a report by the CAR public prosecutor’s office cited by local media outlets.
Allegations quickly circulated on social media in the CAR that the French soldiers were planning to assassinate Touadera.
On Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office said it had opened an investigation against the soldiers on allegations of “an attempted coup and attempted assassination of the head of state.”
The soldiers have been freed a day after UN chief Antonio Guterres strongly condemned their arrest and demanded their immediate release.
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