Seven UN peacekeepers were killed and 10 wounded in a military operation with Congolese forces against rebels in the northeast, which is facing a deadly Ebola outbreak, the United Nations said Thursday.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said one UN peacekeeper was still missing and several Congolese soldiers were also killed or wounded in Wednesday's operation targeting Allied Democratic Forces rebels.
Dujarric said six peacekeepers who were killed were from Malawi and one was from Tanzania.
Congo's volatile east is home to many armed groups vying for control of the mineral-rich region.
Since October 2014, ADF rebels have killed more than 1,500 people in the Beni region, where Wednesday's attack took place. The rebel group was formed in neighboring Uganda in the 1990s and relocated to Congo.
ADF rebels have also killed civilians and abducted children in the Beni region, which has forced suspension of crucial efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in some areas.
Dr. Peter Salama, the emergencies chief for the World Health Organization, predicted Tuesday that Congo's Ebola outbreak will last at least another six months.
He said makeshift health facilities offering both traditional and modern treatment have become ``major drivers'' of the current, deadly transmission and are believed to be linked to more than half of the cases in Beni, the largest city affected by the current outbreak which has taken more than 200 lives.
Salama said the current Ebola outbreak is ``arguably the most difficult context that we've ever encountered,'' pointing to activities of two armed rebel groups in the region.