Clashes in Ebola-affected Congo city kill at least nine

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - Heavy fighting between the army and local militiamen in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola-stricken city of Butembo killed at least nine people on Wednesday, the mayor said.

Butembo is one focus of Congo’s worst ever outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever, which has killed more than 1,000 people since mid-2018.

Efforts to contain the virus have been hampered by attacks on treatment centers by armed groups operating in Congo’s lawless east as well as by distrust among local residents, many of whom view the disease as a conspiracy.

Butembo mayor Sylvain Kanyamanda Mbusa told Reuters that eight militiamen and one police officer were killed in fighting as the gunmen tried to storm the city.

Security forces successfully repelled the attack before the assailants could reach the city’s Ebola treatment centers and made several arrests, Kanyamanda said.

Militiamen attacked a Butembo hospital last month and killed a Cameroonian doctor working for the World Health Organization (WHO) and injured two others.

Reporting by Djaffar Al Katanty; Writing by Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Hugh Lawson