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US News Britons Kidnapped In Democractic Republic Of Congo's Virunga National Park Are Released Unharmed

18:40  13 may  2018
18:40  13 may  2018 Source:   huffingtonpost.co.uk

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Two Britons held hostage in the Democratic Republic of Congo have said they are “very relieved” after they were released unharmed . Last month, five wildlife rangers and their driver were killed by gunmen from one of Congo ’ s Mai-Mai militias, which first formed to resist Rwandan armed groups in

Pair were among group of people taken hostage while visiting renowned gorilla sanctuary the Virunga national park .

a group of clouds in a forest © Thierry Falise via Getty Images

Two Britons held hostage in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been released unharmed.

A female wildlife ranger accompanying the pair was killed.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson said on Sunday: “I am delighted to announce that two British nationals who were held hostage in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been released.

“I pay tribute to the DRC authorities and the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation for their tireless help during this terrible case.

File photo of  Boris Johnson © Getty File photo of Boris Johnson

“My thoughts are now with the family of Virunga Park ranger Rachel Makissa Baraka who was killed during the kidnapping, and with the injured driver and the released British nationals as they recover from this traumatic incident.”

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The Virunga National Park (French: Parc National des Virunga ), formerly named Albert National Park , is a 7,800 km2 (3,000 sq mi)

Unidentified assailants killed 25-year-old park ranger Rachel Makissa Baraka and kidnapped two British tourists and their Congolese driver in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo ’ s Virunga The three were released on Sunday. No information was made public on whether ransoms were paid.

The pair, who have not been named, were kidnapped in Virunga National Park.

Located in Congo’s North Kivu province, the park is one of the most important conservation sites in the world, covering 7,800 square kilometres (3,011 miles) — three times the size of Luxembourg.

The park, its rangers and the gorillas they protect are under constant threat from poachers as well as armed groups vying for power in the aftermath of a devastating civil war that claimed five million lives from 1994-2003. 

British ambassador to the DRC, John Murton, tweeted his thanks to the country’s authorities for helping free the two people.

Last month, five wildlife rangers and their driver were killed by gunmen from one of Congo’s Mai-Mai militias, which first formed to resist Rwandan armed groups in the late 1990s.

Earlier in April, a ranger told the Guardian: “This is not an easy profession. Losing your friends and colleagues is very painful. But we chose to do this, and we know the risks.”

The guards became famous in the 2014 film, Virunga, which followed the stories of four people trying to protect the endangered gorillas from the threats of poaching, war and the destruction of their habitat through oil exploration. 

Last month, 11 people were estimated to have been killed by rebels from a Ugandan Islamist group called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) during a raid on the city of Beni, close to Virunga, Mayor Nyonyi Bwanakawa told Reuters.

The government and United Nations have blamed the spree of massacres near Beni since 2014 on the ADF, but independent experts say some Congolese soldiers have also been involved.

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