Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo said they arrested 11 suspects Thursday in the murder last week of a doctor with the World Health Organization (WHO) who was fighting an Ebola outbreak in the country.
The judge of a military court in the eastern province of Nord Kivu, Colonel Kumbu Ngoma, said three of the suspects were thought to have fired shots in the April 19 killing of Cameroonian doctor Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, and another four of them were believed to be accomplices.
“We hope that with these multiple arrests, security forces will be able to identify and deliver justice to all individuals who were involved in this violence against medical personnel,” DR Congo’s health ministry said in a statement.
Mouzoko was shot dead in an attack on a hospital in the eastern city of Butembo. WHO said he had been deployed as part of a medical team to help rein in the Ebola outbreak which started last August in North Kivu.
The outbreak is the second deadliest on record, after the epidemic that struck West Africa in 2014-2016, which killed more than 11,300 people. The health ministry said Wednesday it had counted 885 deaths in DR Congo from the latest outbreak.
But efforts to roll back the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever have been hampered not only by fighting but also by resistance within communities to preventative measures, care facilities and safe burials.
On Wednesday, dozens of local doctors and nurses protested against the physical risks they ran in Butembo, urging authorities to provide sufficient security by the beginning of May or they would go on strike.
On March 9, an attack on a treatment centre at Butembo left a policeman dead and a health worker wounded. It was the third attack on that centre.
On February 24, a treatment centre in Katwa was set ablaze.
The attacks prompted MSF, an international medical charity, to suspend operations in the area.