More violence in Beni as DRC tracks new Ebola cases

Over the weekend at least 43 people, including a pregnant woman, were killed in Beni, one of the epicenters of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's current Ebola outbreak, as officials tallied eight new cases of the deadly disease.

The rebel terrorist organization Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) likely conducted the attacks, according to the Associated Press (AP) and Al Jazeera.

Last month, clashes between the DRC's military and the ADF led the World Health Organization (WHO) to temporarily pull its Ebola response teams out of the area, after health workers were killed during the skirmishes.

The violence has made contact tracing and vaccination difficult, and have since led to an uptick of cases just weeks after WHO officials said the outbreak was almost contained.

Rebels pit civilians against military

The AP said the first attack began the night of Dec 13, when at least six people were killed in Beni, including a pregnant woman. Al Jazeera said 22 more people were killed in an attack on Dec 14, also in the same city.

All told, the AP said today that 43 people died over the weekend in Beni, including several who were shot as ADF militants went door to door in communities surrounding Beni yesterday.

According to human rights organizations interviewed by the AP, ADF's goal is to pit civilians against the DRC military. The ADF, which has been associated with the Islamic State, is active in eastern DRC.

As of today, the WHO's Ebola dashboard shows 8 new cases recorded over the weekend, including 2 cases today. The outbreak total now stands at 3,348, including 2,210 fatalities. Officials are still investigation 437 suspected cases.   

Violent attacks have almost always spurred on new Ebola cases in their wake during the 17-month-long outbreak in the eastern part of the DRC.

The DRC's Ebola technical committee (CMRE) said cases over the weekend were in Mabalako.

See also:

Dec 14 AP story

Dec 15 Al Jazeera story

Dec 16 AP story

WHO Ebola dashboard

Dec 14 CMRE update

Dec 15 CMRE update

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