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Armed group kills four Ebola response workers in DR Congo, five injured

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Four workers responding to the Ebola outbreak at the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been killed in two attacks at the eastern part of the country, and five others were left injured.

The World Health Organisation that disclosed the deaths on Thursday said the attacked occurred overnight on a shared living camp in Biakato Mines and an Ebola response coordination office in Mangina of DR Congo.

“We are heartbroken that people have died in the line of duty as they worked to save others,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO.

 “The world has lost brave professionals.”

A member of the vaccination team that provides Ebola vaccine for communities was killed, two drivers and a police officer totalled the four that died.

WHO said none of its staff was killed but one was injured, while others injured were the staff of Congo Ministry of Health.

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“My heart goes out to the family and friends of the first responders killed in these attacks,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, consoled the bereaved. 

As the attacks continue, she said the agency would bring all the affected front-line workers to safety. She added that WHO would with the DRC Government, partners and The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) to ensure the security of its staff and other health workers.

Leila Zerrougui, head of the MONUSCO had described the attacks a “very-disturbing” situation.  She reported that so far in November, there have been around 14 attacks, with some 80 people killed in the region that is heavily hit with Ebola outbreak.

More than 2000 people have died from the disease since the outbreak was declared in August 2018.

There have been more than 3,298 cases of Ebola with 2,197 deaths as of 21 November.

“Ebola was retreating. These attacks will give it force again, and more people will die as a consequence,” said Dr Tedros.

“It will be tragic to see more unnecessary suffering in communities that have already suffered so much. We call on everyone who has a role to play to end this cycle of violence,” he said.

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