Gorilla park tourists kidnapped in Congo
Two Britons taken with driver as ranger is killed
Two British citizens have been kidnapped in th e Democratic Republic of Congo.
The pair are understood to have been taken while visiting the Virunga National Park, a renowned gorilla sanctuary in the east of the African country, on Friday.
Female park ranger Rachel Katumwa, who was travelling with the pair, was killed, according to local media reports.
The park has seen rising violence in recent months as armed groups stage raids to steal resources, particularly charcoal.
The Brits were said to be taken along with their Congolese driver.
Park director Emmanuel de Merode said: “I confirm that our vehicle was attacked. Three people were kidnapped, including two tourists.”
The kidnapping took place in a military area and the national army is believed to be responding to the situation.
There have been a number of killings and kidnappings in recent years.
Last month five young rangers and a driver were killed in a militia ambush, the park said.
It was the deadliest attack in recent years and took the total number of rangers killed to 175.
Virunga is a Unesco world heritage site, covering 3,000 square miles on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s border with Uganda and Rwanda.
The park is protected by around 800 rangers but there are estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 militia in and around the area.
Founded in 1925, it is home to around a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas and other endangered species as well as lions, elephants and hippos.
Last year, a fifth of the park’s southern sector was deforested owing to illegal charcoal production, the park said.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel in parts of the country.
The advice – updated three days ago – said tourists are vulnerable if travelling without escorted transport in the eastern part of the country, and the “risk of kidnap or injury as a result of armed or criminal activity remains high”.
It said that UK Government staff were not always in the area and the British embassy’s ability to offer consular assistance could be “severely limited”.
A Foreign Office spokesman 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.”
Virunga National Park ranger Rachel Katumwa died in the attack