Russia and the Central African Republic (CAR) signed a military deal on Tuesday paving the way for Moscow to step up training of CAR’s armed forces, Russian news agencies reported.

Russia’s growing military ties with CAR and its heightened interest in Africa were thrust into the spotlight last month when three Russian journalists were killed while investigating the alleged presence of Russian mercenaries there.

The agreement was signed at a state arms exhibition near Moscow attended by the two countries’ defence ministers, Russian news agencies reported.

Russia delivered light arms to the CAR’s security forces earlier this year and said it had deployed 175 military and civilian instructors to train them.

The RIA news agency cited Marie-Noelle Koyara, CAR’s defence minister, as saying the accord would spur the Russian military training effort.

Koyara did not specify whether the training would take place in Russia, or in CAR with the help of Russian instructors.