Health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) say they have suspended Ebola operations in eastern Beni as violence continues to hamper efforts to stem the worst outbreak of the disease in the country's history.
Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga announced the action on Saturday, the day after clashes erupted a few meters away from a local emergency center and the hotels of various response teams in Beni in the province of North Kivu.
United Nations peacekeepers in the country (MONUSCO) repelled an Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militia the ciThe Boikene neighborhood, north of Ty, on Friday.
Seven Malawians and a peacemaker from Tanzania were killed in the attack.
The United States joins the UN Security Council condemning the murder of a Tanzanian and seven Malawians @MONUSCO peacekeepers. The Council extends our deepest condolences to the families of the dead and to the authorities and people of Malawi, Tanzania, the DRC and the UN. pic.twitter.com/Wpp8MyP8xd
– US Mission to the UN (@USUN) November 16, 2018
Oly Ilunga said that "all field activities were suspended and that the emergency operations center remains closed," adding that Ebola health professionals remained in their hotels.
Also on Saturday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said 16 of its staff were temporarily evacuated after a projectile struck the building they were staying in.
Michel Yao, WHO coordinator for Ebola response operations in Beni, told AFP news agency that no one was injured, adding that it is not known whether the carapace came from ADF or MONUSCO forces.
Oly Ilunga denounced the violence and said the outbreak "remains dangerous, particularly in Beni."
The latest outbreak of Ebola, the 10th country, has caused 166 confirmed and 47 probable deaths, mainly in the mineral-rich provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, which have been the epicenter of the disease. interethnic violence and militia for decades.
According to WHO, a total of 358 confirmed and probable cases were registered in the country.
The number exceeds 318 cases documented in 1976, when the virus was first identified in Yambuku, Equateur province.
"No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as what we are experiencing today" Oly Ilunga Last week, teams responding to the outbreak were attacked an average of three or four times a week at an unprecedented level of violence compared to the country's nine previous outbreaks.
"Since their arrival in the region, response teams have faced threats, physical assaults, repeated destruction of their equipment and kidnapping." Oly Ilunga.
On Saturday, a ceremony was held for peacekeepers who were killed in the previous night's attack.
Fifteen other peacekeepers were killed in an ADF attack at a MONUSCO base in Beni in December 2017.
The armed group was formed in neighboring Uganda in the 1990s. Forced to leave Uganda, it operates in the border area of the North Kivu province of the DRC.
In Beni, the ADF has a brutal reputation. He is accused of hundreds of civilian deaths in the last three years, as well as of mass rapes and recruitment of child soldiers.
Al Jazeera and news agencies