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Wagner Denies Sudan Presence

FILE: Image of Yevgeny Prigohzin, head of Russian mercenary Wagner Group. Taken November 15, 2022.

MOSCOW - Russia's Wagner mercenary group is not operating in Sudan and has not been involved in politics there since Omar al-Bashir was deposed by army officers in a 2019 uprising, its head Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Thursday.

"Wagner is not in Sudan," Prigozhin, who founded the private military contractor in 2014, said in an audio clip posted on Telegram. "Wagner never got involved in the domestic political affairs in Sudan after the departure of Omar al-Bashir."

Prigozhin denied a claim by army general Yassir al-Atta to the Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that Wagner was in Sudan, at the Jebel Amer gold mine in Darfur. Atta also said a Wagner sniper had been killed.

"In any area that has companies that extract gold for Hemedti in Sudan or on the borders with Libya or the Central African Republic, there are Wagner elements," Atta said.

"The whole world knows where they are located," Atta told the newspaper. He also said General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commonly known as Hemedti, who leads the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces that are battling the army, had 53 tons of gold in Russia.

"What Yassir al-Atta said in an interview today is complete nonsense," said Prigozhin, who added that unidentified geological developments in Sudan had been closed long ago.

Reuters was unable to verify that claim.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month he was concerned about the engagement of Wagner in Sudan, although he did not give any evidence.