Central African Republic accuses Russians of conflict abuses

BANGUI, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Russian military instructors committed rights abuses in Central African Republic (CAR) during clashes with rebels this year, a government report said on Sunday, bolstering evidence produced in a United Nations report in June.

The army - backed by U.N. peacekeepers, Russian and Rwandan troops - has been battling rebels seeking to overturn a December vote in which President Faustin-Archange Touadera was declared the winner. Fighting has been fierce: in January rebels launched an assault on the capital Bangui that was repelled after a long gunfight.

The government launched an inquiry into abuses during a December-April counteroffensive after a U.N. report concluded that Russian military instructors and CAR troops killed civilians, occupied schools and looted.

The government’s report found 103 incidents of human rights abuses carried out by Russian instructors, CAR troops and the rebels. These included extrajudical killings, arbitrary arrests and torture, the report said.

“On the proven incidents, some are attributable to the Russian instructors,” the report said, without providing specifics or evidence.

“The accusations against the ... Russian instructors, are being documented for referral to the courts of their country,” it said, adding that some instructors had been repatriated.

Russia’s foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Russian officials have previously denied the accusations.

The gold- and diamond-rich nation of 4.7 million people, in which Russia and France have long competed for influence, has suffered bouts of violence since former President Francois Bozize was ousted in 2013.

The UN report drafted by sanctions experts accused CAR soldiers and Russian instructors of killing at least six civilians at a mosque during an operation against CPC rebels.

It said they also looted an aid group and stole goods worth $1,850, including kits for sexual violence victims. (Reporting By Judicaël Yongo in Bangui Additional reporting by Andrey Ostroukh in Moscow Writing by Edward McAllister in Dakar Editing by Peter Graff)