Friday, 11 May 2018

DR CONGO: Two British Tourists Kidnapped And A Female Ranger Killed In Virunga National Park

Some tourists were kidnapped and a convoy attacked in the Virunga National Park, the Democratic Republic of Congo's famed haven for gorillas and other endangered species, a park source said.

The source did not specify the nationality of those abducted but said their guard was seriously injured.

A local journalist also tweeted about the kidnapping.

I confirm an attack on our convoy, Joel Wengamulay, the park spokesman said, without specifying if tourists were targetted or had been kidnapped.

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 (3,011 miles), or three times the size of Luxembourg, along a swathe of eastern DR Congo 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 DR Congo's North Kivu province, where armed groups are fighting for control of territorial and natural resources, and poaching is a major threat.

It is believed they were visiting the world-famous gorilla sanctuary the Virunga National Park.

The tourists were reportedly taken on a route after a ranger was killed in the park today in North Kivu.

The Foreign Office has confirmed that the two Brits have been kidnapped.

An FCO spokesperson said We are in close contact with the authorities in Democratic Republic of the Congo following an incident involving two British nationals, and our staff are providing support to their families.
Radio Okapi, a local radio station said two British tourists were kidnapped and a female ranger had been killed 10km from Goma, which is a region south of Virunga National Park.

The Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation confirmed that two British tourists and their driver were kidnapped while a park guard was killed this morning.

A park spokesman told CNN that security staff were immediately deployed after there learned of the incident.

The Congo is currently faced with an outbreak of Ebola and the World Health Organisation is planning for the worst case scenario.

The WHO’s Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response Peter Salama is waiting for the country’s government to allow them to deploy a vaccine.

This will be the ninth time the virus has affected Congo and nine countries have been warned to prepare for the “worst case scenario”.

Between 2014 and 2016 Ebola swept across West Africa killing at least 11,000 people.

Tourism Observer
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