Blood diamonds, armed rebels and a Cambridge-educated warlord: The inside story of the Central African Republic civil war

At his fortified villa in the devastated, contested diamond-mining town of Bria, rebel commander Ibrahim Alawad is puffing cigarettes between sips of thick black coffee, eager to talk revolution and religion, and tell me about his education at Cambridge University, a world away from this land torn apart by civil war.

The Central African Republic (CAR) lies in a bad neighbourhood. To the north are the insurgency-prone desert states of Chad and Sudan. Nasty conflicts also blight other bordering countries – Cameroon, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since independence in 1960, a string of despots have misruled this sparsely populated former French colony, a landlocked territory…

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