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Ebola first responders threaten to strike whose safety does not …



GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, April 24 (Reuters) – Health workers in one of the epicenter of East Democratic Republic of Congo's Ebola outbreak threatened on Wednesday to strike already next week if the authorities Don't do it more to protect them.

Repeated attacks on treatment centers by armed community communities and community members who believe that Ebola is a conspiracy against them have hampered the response to the second deadly outbreak of haemorrhagic fever in history.

In the recent attack on a hospital in the town of Butembo, a skilled epidemiologist from Cameroon was killed and two others were injured on Friday.

By a protest on Wednesday in Butembo, the largest city affected by current outbreaks, dozens of Congolese doctors and nurses marched behind a banner reading "Ebola exists" and urged the authorities to take additional security measures.

"If our security is not guaranteed, we will continue strike from the first week of May," said Dr. Kalima Nzanzu, from a note to Butembo's Mayor Sylvain Kanyamanda.

Kanyamanda told Reuters that he understood the health professionals' frustrations and that the government was determined to respond to their demands.

The latest outbreak of Ebola, declared in August last year and is the 1

0th Congo since the virus was discovered in 1976, is believed to have killed 880 people and infected nearly 500 more in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

On Wednesday, Military Prosecutor's Office in North Kivu said the authorities had captured the suspect leader of last week's attacks and about a dozen other suspects.

Prosecutors believe that the attackers belong to an armed group called the Patriotic Union for the Liberation of the Congo (UPLC) based on a channel back in the hospital threatening healthcare professionals.

Thousands of militias are active in eastern Congo border areas with Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, wh they run lucrative rackets and struggle over land, ethnicity and mineral resources. (Reporting of Fiston Mahamba; Additional Reporting of Stanis Bujakera in Kinshasa; Writing of Aaron Ross; Editing of Hugh Lawson)

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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