A group of health officials charged with informing the public of how they can protect themselves from the hemorrhagic fever Ebola has disappeared in the Guinean village of Wome.
A report from the BBC said that authorities fear the six people may have been abducted or killed.
The team of three doctors and three journalists reportedly went missing after they were attacked on Tuesday in a village near the city of Nzerekore.
One journalist managed to escape the ambush by villagers, who greeted the health team with a hail of stones. She was able to call fellow reporters to tell them what had happened and that she was hiding, but could hear the attackers looking for her.
That was the last anyone outside of Wome heard of the team.
Nzerekore’s governor told the BBC that the education team are being held captive, though he declined to elaborate why.
A delegation of officials, including Guinea’s health minister and communications minister, has attempted to gain access to the village and rescue the missing team, but the village is inaccessible by road. The villagers have blocked the main bridge leading to the town.
The national officials are currently negotiating with the village elders in an attempt to de-escalate the situation.
Efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak have been hampered in the region by some people’s refusal to believe that the disease is real. Others believe that a diagnosis means certain death or that health officials are actually infecting people with the disease.
Last month, a riot broke out in a public market when health officials in the region attempted to disinfect the area. Local people spread word that the health workers were trying to infect people with the disease, which has killed more than 2,600 people in West Africa since the first cases were reported earlier this summer.
The World Health Organization has warned that the disease could infect up to 20,000 people before it burns itself out.
French President François Hollande said Thursday that France is setting up a military hospital in Guinea, which has a population of nearly 12 million people, in an effort to slow down the epidemic and treat those infected.
Ebola attacks the central nervous system and causes high fevers, nausea, headaches, vomiting and bleeding from the extremities. It is fatal in approximately half of the people it infects.
The current Ebola outbreak is the worst ever recorded and began about six months ago. Thus far, it has affected five African nations: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Senegal and Guinea.