At least seven United Nations peacekeepers were killed by militias in the epicenter of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s ongoing Ebola epidemic, United Nations and diplomatic sources said Thursday. “Our peacekeeping colleagues tell us that six peacekeepers from Malawi and one from Tanzania who are part of the U.N. peacekeeping operation in the DRC ... were killed yesterday, in Beni territory, in North Kivu,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York. The Beni territory and surrounding villages are currently suffering an Ebola epidemic that has killed about 200 people.
For the past year, the Beni region in Eastern Congo has seen a surge in militant violence. Eastern Congo has been inundated by armed insurrections for over twenty years, after the fall of their military ruler Mobutu Sese Seko. The attacks have prevented medical workers from reaching victims, hampering international efforts to contain the outbreak. According to a U.N. spokesperson, Secretary General Antonio Guterres “calls on all armed groups to stop their destabilizing activities, which continue to add to the suffering of the population and complicate the response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak.”