Guard killed, 3 kidnapped in DRC's Virunga park

2018-05-11 20:00
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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.

"I confirm that our vehicle was attacked. Three people were kidnapped, including two tourists," park director Emmanuel de Merode said.

Park spokesperson Joel Wengamula said a guard was killed and added that two of the people kidnapped were British.

On April 9, five rangers and a driver were killed in an ambush in the park, which was established in 1925.

One of the most important conservation sites in the world, it covers 7 800 square kilometres, or three times the size of Luxembourg, along a swathe of eastern DRC abutting the border with Uganda and Rwanda.

Virunga is home to about a quarter of the world's population of critically-endangered mountain gorillas, as well as to eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, lions, elephants and hippos.

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.

De Merode, a Belgian national, was himself wounded in a road ambush between the park and Goma, the capital of North Kivu, in May 2014.

On April 2, a park ranger died in an attack by armed men. He was guarding the site of a hydroelectric plant that is under construction.

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Read more on:    drc  |  central africa

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