Terrorists killed at least 13 people, including infants and patients, in an attack on a clinic in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday night, hospital staff said on Friday. The Congolese army blamed the raid on a local militia allied with Islamist fighters.
The ISIS terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack, the group’s news agency said in a statement on its Telegram channel on Saturday.
The terrorists believed to be from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Ugandan armed group that has operated in the dense forests of eastern Congo for decades, attacked a church clinic at around 10 p.m. on Thursday, two witnesses said.
An army spokesman said the attackers were actually from a local militia collaborating with the ADF and using the same methods.
The army killed three terrorists 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.
Kule Mwenge Salomon, a nurse at Lume health center, said “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.”
Hospital chief Kule Bwenge told reporters that three infants and four patients were among those killed in the attack.
Some hospital staff are missing and several houses were burned in the attack Thursday night on the medical center. It’s the largest health facility in the region.
“Four blocks of the medical center were set on fire. Several sick guards, as well as a nurse, are missing,” Bwenge said.
Kakule Vikere Lem was feeding his father at the clinic when he saw a column of people with torches approaching the town, around 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.