At least nine patients have been killed in an attack on a clinic in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s east, the army has said, blaming the raid on a local armed group.
Assailants believed to be from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group that has operated in the dense forests of the region for decades, attacked a church clinic at around 10pm (21:00 GMT) on Thursday night, two witnesses said.
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The ADF, which the United States has deemed a “terrorist” group, is considered the deadliest of dozens of armed militias that roam mineral-rich eastern DRC. It is linked to the armed group ISIL (ISIS).
An army spokesman said on Friday that the attackers were actually from a local fights collaborating with the ADF and using the same methods.
The army killed three fighters and captured one when it responded to the attack in the town of Lume, in North Kivu province, said army spokesman Anthony Mualushay.
He said there were nine dead, including three children, while a nurse at the hospital counted 13 bodies.
“In the hospital ward there were four patients who all burned to death, in the paediatric unit all the mattresses are burned and in the side wards we just collected nine bodies,” said Kule Mwenge Salomon, a nurse at Lume health centre.
Kakule Vikere Lem was feeding his father at the clinic when he saw a column of people with torches approaching the town, around 40km (25 miles) south-east of the city of Beni.
“I fled, thinking that they would spare the hospital, but unfortunately they burned my father in the hospital,” Vikere said.