Islamic State claimed responsibility for a deadly overnight attack in an area of eastern Congo hit by an Ebola epidemic, although its account of the violence differed from local reports.
The deputy mayor of Beni in eastern Democratic of Congo said 13 civilians were killed on Monday in an attack by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) – a group thought to be linked to Islamic State.
“Some victims were killed by bullets and others by bladed weapons,” Mayor Modeste Bakwanamaha told Reuters.
In a statement on messaging website Telegram, Islamic State said it was behind the attack. It targeted the Congolese army in Beni, killing or wounding 25 people.
The bloodshed added to widespread insecurity hampering efforts to contain the second-worst Ebola epidemic on record. The number of cases hit 2,000 this week as the rate of infection accelerated.
Bakwanamaha said the latest violence was probably in response to a crackdown by the Congolese army last week that killed 26 ADF members after they attacked an army position in Ngite.
The ADF never claimed allegiance to Islamic State, but Islamic State said last Thursday its ‘Central Africa Province’ affiliate inflicted “dozens of casualties” on Congolese forces, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online jihadist activity.