10 January 2021

Armed rangers in the Virunga National Park. File photo
image captionRangers working in the park, which is home to endangered mountain gorillas, have often come under attack (file photo)

Six park rangers have been killed after an attack at the famous Virunga National Park in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Officials have blamed the attack on a militia group known as Mai-Mai, one of many that operate in the region.

The rangers were ambushed while on foot patrol inside the park, a spokesperson told the BBC.

Staff working in the park, which is home to endangered mountain gorillas, have often come under attack.

In April last year 13 rangers were killed in a rebel ambush.

Several armed groups operate in the restive eastern region of DR Congo where Virunga National Park – a Unesco World Heritage site – is based.

A statement from the park said preliminary investigations suggested the rangers “were taken by surprise and had no opportunity to defend themselves” during the Sunday morning attack.

It said another ranger who was seriously injured in the attack was receiving treatment and expected to make a full recovery,

A local government delegate Alphonse Kambale told AFP news agency that two Mai-Mai militants had also been killed. captionWhy are people in mineral-rich DR Congo among the world’s poorest?

Nearly 700 armed rangers work in Virunga – Africa’s oldest nature reserve – where at least 200 have been killed in attacks going back more than a decade, AFP reports.

map of Virunga


Six Virunga Park rangers killed in eastern Congo ambush

By Reuters Staff

2 MIN READA Virunga park ranger walks past a sign inside the Virunga National Park near the eastern Congolese city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Armed men on Sunday killed at least six rangers and wounded several others in an ambush in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park, a sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas, the park said.

The identity of the assailants was not immediately clear, said Olivier Mukisya, a Virunga spokesman. Previous attacks against the rangers have been blamed on various militias who fight to control land and natural resources in eastern Congo.

“We confirm this sad news. A group of armed men attacked our positions in the region of Nyamitwitwi in the middle of Virunga National Park,” Mukisya told Reuters.

More than 200 rangers have been killed in the past, including 12 last April in the deadliest such attack in recent memory.

Dozens of armed groups operate in eastern Congo, many remnants of militias that fought in civil wars around the turn of the century that resulted in millions of deaths from conflict, hunger and disease.

Virunga sits on the forest-covered volcanoes of central Africa and is home to over half the global population of mountain gorillas.

It is Africa’s oldest national park and largest tropical rainforest reserve, covering 7,800 sq km (3,000 sq miles).

Reporting by Djaffar Al Katanty; Writing by Aaron Ross; editing by Barbara Lewis

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