Nobel Peace Prize nominee survives assassination attempt


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The Independent Online

A doctor from the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose work treating thousands of rape victims earned him a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, has survived an assassination attempt.

Dr Denis Mukwege, 57, a fierce critic of both his government and armed rebel groups, was attacked by gunmen in the eastern city of Bukavu on Thursday night.

Four unidentified men took members of Dr Mukwege’s family hostage and waited for him to return home. Shots were fired and his security guard was killed before the attackers fled.

He had faced regular death threats because of his work. Last month, he delivered a strongly worded speech at the UN General Assembly in which he denounced mass rape and criticised regional leaders for failing to solve the crisis in eastern Congo, where armed groups terrorise civilians.

Activists called on UN peacekeepers to protect the doctor. Susannah Sirkin at Physicians for Human Rights said: “Dr Mukwege’s safety must be of the utmost priority to the Congolese government.”

At the height of Congo’s civil war in 2006, nearly 1,100 women and children were raped every day, according to a report in the American Journal of Public Health. Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where Dr Mukwege works, has treated more than 10,000 women, many suffering horrific vaginal injuries.

Nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, the gynaecologist has won numerous international awards including the UN Human Rights Prize, African of the Year and the Olof Palme Prize.