Rebel attack in DR Congo Ebola zone kills 18


At least 14 civilians and four soldiers were killed in a six-hour attack by rebels on Beni in eastern Congo, the army and local officials said, disrupting efforts to contain an Ebola epidemic.

The latest outbreak of the deadly disease in Democratic Republic of Congo has focused on North Kivu and Ituri provinces, a tinder box of armed rebellion and ethnic killing since two civil wars in the late 1990s.

Militants believed to belong to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group active in eastern Congo, clashed with Congolese troops in Beni, a town of several hundred thousand people, local civil society leader Kizito Bin Hangi said.
“Beni is ungovernable. Several protests have been declared in the town where people express their anger and consternation,” he said.

In addition to known fatalities, dozens of civilians were wounded as they fled the violence, which broke out in on Saturday evening and lasted until midnight, Bin Hangi added.

During a news conference in Beni on Sunday, a representative of the Congolese army said four soldiers were killed in the attack.

Spokesman Mak Hazukay confirmed the civilian death toll of 14, adding six civilians and four military personnel were wounded — lower figures than estimated by the civil society leader.

The attack underscores the challenges government and health organisations face tackling Ebola in an area where years of instability undermined confidence in the authorities.

Community unrest in the wake of the latest violence prompted the Health Ministry to temporarily suspend field work in Beni as part of its Ebola response.
“Many inhabitants of Beni took to the streets to protest against growing insecurity in the zone. The fieldwork of the response will resume once calm returns to the town,” the ministry said in its daily Ebola report.

The latest outbreak, causing haemmorhagic fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, is believed to have killed 99 people since July and infected another 48.