Congo medics arrested over Ebola doctor’s killing

Three Congolese doctors have been arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo over the killing of a World Health Organisation (WHO) medic, a military prosecutor has said.

Cameroonian doctor Richard Mouzoko was shot dead in April at a hospital in Butembo, where he was treating Ebola patients.

The “passionate” medic was “always ready to go where people would need his help most,” the WHO said in a tribute.

The motive for the attack is unclear.

More than 1,800 people have died from the Ebola virus in the past year. Efforts to contain the spread have been hindered by militia group violence and by suspicion towards foreign medical assistance.

Senior military prosecutor Lt Col Jean-Baptiste Kumbu told AFP that militiamen involved in attacking treatment centres, including Butembo hospital, had under interrogation implicated four doctors in planning the raids.

He said the three Congolese doctors will be prosecuted for “terrorism” and “criminal conspiracy”, according to AFP, while the fourth doctor was still at large.

The current outbreak in eastern DR Congo began in August last year and is the biggest of the 10 to hit the country since 1976, when the virus was first discovered.

It is dwarfed by the West African epidemic of 2014-16, which affected 28,616 people mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. About 11,310 people died in what was the largest outbreak of the virus ever recorded.

Dr Mouzoko was one of a number of medics deployed by the WHO to help fight the spread of the virus in DR Congo.

Former colleagues in Madagascar, Cameroon and DR Congo have described Dr Mouzoko as a committed professional, who over the course of his career, helped train hundreds of young doctors and health workers.

“He would regularly spend 15 to 20 days a month working among isolated communities in his home country, Cameroon, far from his wife and 4 children,” the WHO said in a statement after Dr Mouzoko’s death.

His funeral in April was attended by the global health body’s top official and its Africa director.

In a letter to the mayor of Butembo, a group representing local doctors said it was “indignant” over the arrests, adding that their absence would cripple vital medical services in the area such as blood transfusions and disease prevention. –BBC

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