British vacationers kidnapped, guard killed in Congo park ambush

Clay Curtis
May 11, 2018

Unidentified attackers on Friday killed a guard and kidnapped three people, including two British tourists, in Democratic Republic of Congo's Virunga national park, a famed haven for gorillas and other endangered species, authorities said.

Local media reports say the ranger shot dead was female and acting as a guard, while the United Kingdom citizens were taken along with their Congolese driver.

Virunga National Park, which lies in the eastern area of the country, is Africa's oldest park and its most biologically varied, using a different landscape of busy volcanoes, savannahs, mountains, lakes and woods.

Joel Wengamulay, spokesman for the Congolese Institute for The Conservation of Nature, told the United Nations -backed Radio Okapi that the kidnapping occurred Friday in the Nyiragongo territory just north of Goma. "Three people were kidnapped, including two tourists".

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Virunga is home to about one-quarter of the world's remaining mountain gorillas, and the work of protecting them has proven unsafe.

But it is located in DRC's North Kivu province, where armed groups are fighting for control of territorial and natural resources, and poaching is a major threat.

He said the park is protected by around 800 rangers but there are also estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 militia in and around the park.

That attack brought the number of rangers killed on the job to 175 since the vast park in far eastern Congo was established in 1925, officials said.

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