Bel­gian Em­manuel de Merode shot in DR Congo am­bush

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL -

The Bel­gian di­rec­tor of the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo’s fa­mous Virunga Na­tional Park has been shot and se­ri­ously wounded in an am­bush.

Em­manuel de Merode’s ve­hi­cle came un­der fire as he was trav­el­ling from the east­ern city of Goma to the town of Ru­mangabo, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment is­sued by the park.

Some of east­ern DR Congo’s nu­mer­ous armed groups are based in the park.

More than 130 park rangers have been killed in Virunga since 1996. Mr De Merode was shot in the chest, North Kivu Provin­cial Gover­nor Julien Paluku told AFP news agency.

“He’s in a sta­ble but crit­i­cal con­di­tion,” the park said on its Twit­ter ac­count.

Mr De Merode was driv­ing un­escorted from Goma to Ru­mangabo when gun­men am­bushed his ve­hi­cle, ac­cord­ing to Mr Paluku. Goma is about 50km (30 miles) from Ru­mangabo, the head­quar­ters of Virunga Na­tional Park.

The park - Africa’s old­est - is home to 480 of the world’s 790 re­main­ing moun­tain go­ril­las.

It is one of the most eco­log­i­cally di­verse places on Earth and is on the UN list of World Her­itage sites in dan­ger.

The east of the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo is a mostly law­less re­gion, hit by con­flict be­tween the govern­ment and var­i­ous armed groups.

Em­manuel de Merode worked in an area where many armed groups and poach­ers op­er­ate

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