The World Health Organization on Thursday said three health workers were killed and five others got injured in overnight attacks by Mai-Mai fighters at a camp in Biakato Mines, and an Ebola response coordination office in the Democratic Republic of Congo reported Reuters.
“Attacks by armed groups in Biakato Mines and Mangina in DRC have resulted in deaths and injuries amongst Ebola responders,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter. “We are heartbroken that our worst fears have been realized. Our focus is caring for the wounded and ensuring staff at other locations are safe.”
The dead include a vaccinator and two drivers stationed at Biakato Mines, an Ebola response camp used by the WHO, government officials, UNICEF and other aid agencies, while a police officer died in the attack on a health coordination office in the small town of Mangina.
Local official Salambongo Selemani said the rebels had already posted warning posters demanding that the health workers leave or be ready to face the worst.
WHO’s executive director for health emergencies, Dr. Mike Ryan said neither the attackers’ identities nor their motivation had been known but it was confirmed that the attack was a directed attack at the response.
This is not the first time that the rebels have attacked health workers who have been working hard to contain the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history have been targeted.
The latest attacks follow days of deadly unrest in the city of Beni, where the local people stormed the local U.N. peacekeeping base, demanding more protection from rebel groups. The WHO evacuated 49 of its staffers there, leaving 71 in place.
Earlier this month, the authorities said more than 300 attacks on Ebola health workers had been recorded since the start of the year, leaving six dead and 70 injured, some of them patients.