Islamist rebels kill nun, six others at Catholic hospital in DR Congo

Sister Marie-Sylvie Kavuke Vakatsuraki, who was killed in Maboya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Oct. 19, 2022. Sister Marie-Sylvie Kavuke Vakatsuraki, who was killed in Maboya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Oct. 19, 2022. | Courtesy photo

A Catholic nun serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was among the seven people killed Wednesday evening when gunmen aligned with the Islamic State attacked a Catholic mission hospital in a raid.

Sister Marie-Sylvie Kavuke Vakatsuraki and six patients at the hospital were killed Oct. 19 when gunmen with the Allied Democratic Forces raided Maboya village, in the country’s northeast province of North Kivu, International Christian Concern reports.

Several people who work or live near the hospital, including two nuns, were missing in the wake of the attack and are feared to be abducted by the raiders, according to International Christian Concern.

The Allied Democratic Forces are rebels from neighboring Uganda. They are aligned with the Islamic State. The group of gunmen which attacked Maboya also stole drugs and medical equipment from the hospital, and set it on fire.

Bishop Melchisédec Sikuli Paluku of Butembo-Beni lamented the killings and strongly condemned the attack. Sister Marie-Sylvie was a medical doctor and a member of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Presentation of Our Lady at the Temple, the bishop said.

“May the soul of our dear Sister Doctor Marie-Sylvie Kavuke Vakatsuraki, who passed away in the service of her brothers and sisters, rest in peace through the mercy of God!” Paluku said in an Oct. 20 statement obtained by ACI Africa, CNA’s partner agency. 

“Words cannot express the horror that has more than crossed the threshold!” he added.

Paluku deplored the burning of the hospital and the theft of medicine and equipment. The medical facility is run by the diocese’s Office of Medical Works, the bishop said.

The bishop voiced his condolences to the whole village and reassured them of the diocese’s prayers. He also voiced his condolences to Sister Marie Sylvie’s biological family, to the medical profession, and to all the Little Sisters of the Presentation.

There have been multiple attacks from the Allied Democratic Forces and the attacks appear to be increasing throughout October. The rebel group is engaged in a campaign to impose their vision of Islam on the region. 

On Oct. 4, some 20 Christians were killed in Kainama in North Kivu, International Christian Concern reports. The group says there have been daily reports of Allied Democratic Forces attacks in the two provinces of North Kivu and Ituri.

In early February, a Catholic priest was murdered by armed men in the North Kivu territory of Lubero while he was returning to the parish of St. Michael the Archangel in the Butembo-Beni diocese.

Jude Atemanke contributed to this report.

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