Russian media reports say a three-man crew of Russian journalists was killed in the Central African Republic, with colleagues saying they were shooting a film about mercenaries in the country.

Local police say they may have fallen victim to a robbery, according to RT.

The three men have been named as journalist Orhan Dzhemal, director Aleksandr Rastorguyev, and cameraman Kirill Radchenko.

Dzhemal was a well-known war correspondent, who had been wounded while reporting from Syria, while Rastorguyev had been awarded multiple prizes for his documentaries.

A Russian independent television channel Dozhd, also known as TV Rain, says they were shooting documentary about the Wagner Group (a Russian paramilitary organization).

The Russian foreign ministry said that press documents in their names have been found, while relatives of the dead have told the media that they have identified them from photographs taken after their deaths, and an investigation has been opened into the incident in Moscow.

AFP reported that the men had been attacked at a roadblock 23 kilometers from the central town of Sibut, located inside one of the world’s poorest and most unstable countries, which is divided between warring fiefdoms.

A local police source told Interfax news agency that robbery was the suspected motive of the attack.

Rodion Chepel, another investigative journalist with close knowledge of the crew's plans, told RBC news channel that the journalists had arrived in capital Bangui late last week, and were traveling east to the city of Bombari, on the road to which they were blocked, at which point all connection with them was lost.  Their editors said that they did not obtain official accreditation with local authorities before traveling to the country.

Three bodies as well as a bullet-riddled car have been located and were initially taken to the peacekeeping compound in Sibut, the United Nations mission in the country (MINUSCA) has confirmed. They have now been transported to Bangui, and Russian embassy officials say that they will organize their return to their homeland.

The Wagner Group is a Russian paramilitary organization, whose contractors have reportedly taken part in various conflicts, including operations in the Syrian Civil War on the side of the Syrian government as well as, from 2014 until 2015, in the War in Donbass in Ukraine.  The founder of the company is alleged to be Dmitriy Utkin, who was born in Kirovograd Oblast (then the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of the USSR) in 1970.  Wagner was in 2016–2017 believed to have a membership of 1,000–5,000, be registered in Argentina.