Sunday, September 19, 2021

10 killed as hospital torched in DR Congo fighting

Ten civilians were killed and a hospital burned down in troubled eastern DR Congo during fighting between government forces and an armed group, aid groups and local officials said on Tuesday.

The Kivu Security Tracker (KST) monitor said on Twitter that it had updated its death toll from the Monday attack on Boga village in Ituri province to 10 “after the discovery of five additional bodies”.

“The hospital was set on fire and a tomb was desecrated in the cathedral,” the group added, saying that two of the attackers were killed in fighting with Congolese armed forces and UN peacekeepers.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had earlier said that the general hospital it supports in Boga in Ituri province was “deliberately targeted in a brutal attack” on Monday.

The hospital was “the last structure in the area which provided treatment to people,” it said in a statement.

The pharmacy and medical store were looted, the intensive care unit burned down and other buildings were pillaged, it said.

MSF said it knew “little” about the attackers or why they targeted the hospital.

But the army blamed a notorious militia, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which on May 31 slaughtered 57 people in the area.

Nine children who were being treated in the paediatric service and two adult patients are awaiting transfer to another hospital, MSF said.

Kabimba Zitono, head of the Rubingo administrative area, said at least four civilians were killed, and that the church in Boga as well as the hospital had been burned.

 

The Democratic Republic of Congo's troubled eastern provinces.  By Sophie RAMIS (AFP)The Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled eastern provinces. By Sophie RAMIS (AFP)

 

The unidentified attackers are believed to have holed up in a neighbouring village, he told AFP.

The army said the ADF, which has been blamed for massacring hundreds of people this year, set the hospital ablaze while retreating from government troops.

A historically Ugandan Islamist group that the United States links with the so-called Islamic State, the ADF is the deadliest of scores of armed militias that roam the mineral-rich eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

MSF said the attack on the hospital “showed blatant disregard for the neutrality of hospitals and medical spaces” and urged all combatants to respect medical infrastructure and personnel.

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on May 6 proclaimed a 30-day “state of siege” in Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province to help stem the violence.

Governors and other senior officials have been replaced by army officers or police.

The measure was renewed for another 30 days by the National Assembly on Thursday.

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