At least two students and a teacher were killed and several other teachers kidnapped after a primary school holding exams was attacked by unidentified gunmen in eastern Congo, authorities and the United Nations said on Friday.
Exact details of the attack and the number of casualties remained unclear.
Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi said two students died when fighting broke out in North Kivu province on Thursday morning. He did not give further details.
Cosmas Kangakolo, an administrator for Masisi territory, said the Ngoyi Primary School was attacked. He said one teacher died and several were kidnapped.
Exam centres in the area are protected by the army, Kangakolo said, because of endemic security problems.
The United Nations children’s fund said in a statement the clashes took place between law enforcement and an armed group close to the exam centre. It was not clear whether the students were targets of the fighting or caught in cross-fire.
Rich in fertile soils and natural resources but awash with weapons, large portions of eastern Congo continue to suffer from chronic instability following the 1998-2003 war in which millions of people died.
Violence has flared in recent months with armed groups killing more than 1,300 people in the first half of 2020, three times more than the previous year.