DR Congo: 2 kidnapped British tourists released

Pauline Gross
May 14, 2018

The UK's top diplomat Boris Johnson declined to offer any further details, but paid tribute to the Congolese authorities "for their tireless help during this bad case".

Virunga Park director, Emmanuel de Merode, said: "We are deeply saddened by the death of Virunga National Park Ranger Baraka, whose life was tragically cut short while protecting the passengers and driver".

"Delighted that two British nationals held hostage in DRC have been released", Johnson posted on Twitter.

On April 9, six park staffers were killed in the deadliest known ambush of its kind in Virunga.

The 25-year-old ranger is the eighth to be murdered at the park this year.

"We wish to extend our sincerest condolences to her family, and our thoughts are with all those affected by this incident".

Mr Johnson said his thoughts were with Ms Baraka's family, the injured driver, "and the released British nationals as they recover from this traumatic incident".

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One of the most important conservation sites in the world, Virunga Park covers 7,800 square kilometres (3,000 miles) along a swathe of eastern DR Congo abutting the border with Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga Park is home to about one-quarter of the world's remaining mountain gorillas, and the work of protecting them has proven risky.

The pair, whose release was arranged by guards at Virunga National Park, are uninjured and no ransom was paid, ITV News Africa Correspondent John Ray said.

Following Friday's kidnapping, the British Foreign Office "advised against all but essential travel" to the DRC province where Virunga park is located.

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

A fifth of the park's southern sector was deforested owing to illegal charcoal production, the park said. "Attacks could be indiscriminate", the Foreign Office wrote.

Baraka was critically injured when the vehicle the four were travelling in was attacked by armed assailants, the park said on its website.

Other reports by GizPress

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