Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Kidnapped UK tourists in DR Congo released

Kidnapped UK tourists in DR Congo released

They were taken while visiting the Virunga National Park, a renowned gorilla sanctuary in the east of the African country.

A 25-year-old park ranger travelling with Ms Davies and Mr Jesty was killed and their driver was also taken captive, a park spokesman said.

Two Britons held hostage in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been released, Britain's foreign minister Boris Johnson says.

Ugandan Islamist militants, remnants of the extremists behind Rwanda's genocide in 1994 and other militias who roam the park have carried increasingly deadly attacks in recent months.

He mentioned that "my ideas are actually with the household of Virunga Park ranger Rachel Makissa Baraka who was killed in the course of the kidnapping, and with the injured driver".

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

Cosma Wilungula, director general of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation, welcomed the tourists' release.

The BBC's Louise Dewast, reporting from the country's capital Kinshasa, said there were armed groups operating in the park and there had been kidnappings before, with half involving a ransom demand.

In peacetime, the Virunga National Park has barely fended off the local warlords and gangsters seeking to strip it off its valuable timber or the government officials and vested corporate interests seeking to exploit its oil.

It is a Unesco world heritage site and home to critically-endangered mountain gorillas, as well as lions, elephants and hippos.

The tourists' vehicle was ambushed while transporting them from the park about 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the city of Goma, a park guard told The Associated Press.

Last year, a fifth of the park's southern sector was deforested owing to illegal charcoal production.

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