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Russia Demarches France Over CAR Attack

FILE - A private security guard from the Russian Wagner Group, left, stands next to a Central African Republic soldier during a rally of the United Hearts Movement (MCU) political party at the Omnisport Stadium in Bangui, March 18, 2022.

Moscow said last week that one of its representatives in the African nation was injured by an exploding parcel.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna rejected a claim by the boss of Russia's Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, that Paris was involved and should be designated a state sponsor of terrorism, describing the claim as "Russian propaganda".

Moscow said Wednesday it had summoned France's ambassador in Russia Pierre Levy to lodge a formal complaint against the "inappropriate and cynical" comments.

"We call on the French authorities to refrain from a neo-colonial approach when working in the region... whipping up anti-Russian hysteria and creating an atmosphere of hostility towards Russian representatives and specialists operating in the country," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The last French troops deployed in Central African Republic left the country last week following a chill in relations caused by the closer ties between Bangui and Moscow and the deployment of Russian forces.

Some countries say those forces include Wagner mercenaries, who have been linked with atrocities and looting of resources.