CONAKRY - Guinea vowed Friday to hunt down the killers of an Ebola education team found dead two days after they were attacked by angry locals in a town at the epicentre of the outbreak.
The victims, said to include local health officials and journalists, had been missing ever since their delegation was pelted with stones during an outreach visit in the southern town of Womey on Tuesday.
"Everyone involved in these murders will be hunted down and brought before the courts to be sanctioned under the law," government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara said in a statement.
Eight bodies were recovered from the septic tank of a primary school, he said, revising the toll up from the seven victims reported on Thursday.
At least 21 people were wounded during the unrest, according to local police.
The spread of Ebola in Guinea has been accompanied by fear and paranoia by villagers who feel the government and the international community cannot be trusted.
Many Guineans believe local and foreign health care workers are part of a conspiracy which either deliberately introduced the outbreak, or invented it as a means of luring Africans to clinics to harvest their blood and organs.
"The villagers violently attacked the delegation led by the governor, Lancei Conde, with stones and sticks," police lieutenant Richard Haba told AFP on Thursday.
He said the protesters thought the outreach team had come "to kill them because they think Ebola is nothing more than an invention of white people to kill black people".
The epidemic emerged in Guinea at the start of the year and has killed 600 Guineans out of a total death toll across four African nations of more than 2,600.
"The government condemns in the strongest terms the killing of Guinean citizens, including representatives of the state in the exercise of their functions," Camara said.
"These crimes are all the more regrettable since they come at a time when the international community is mobilising to assist affected countries in their fight against the Ebola virus."