The death toll from a weekend attack in DR Congo’s restive east rose to 21 on Monday, with the violence prompting aid groups to suspend their Ebola work in the area.
The bloodshed occurred on Saturday in Beni, a flashpoint city in North Kivu region. The Congolese army has blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a notorious rebel militia.
The latest violence, which sparked local anger, comes just three months before the Democratic Republic of Congo holds a fractious election to choose a successor to Joseph Kabila, the country’s deeply-contested president.
It also prompted NGOs in Beni working to fight the spread of Ebola to halt their work following a health ministry request, although Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was operating as normal in treatment centres some 30-50 kilometres (20-30 miles) outside the city.
Witnesses said Saturday’s violence began in the city centre in the late afternoon with the attackers using guns and machetes.
An initial army estimate put the toll at 18 dead, including 14 civilians and four soldiers, but later raised it to 21, including 17 civilians.