Friday, 8 June 2018

Virunga national park in Congo closes to tourists until 2019

Security review to take place after 12 rangers are killed and two Britons are abducted

Jason BurkeAfrica correspondent
Mon 4 Jun 2018 15.29 BSTLast modified on Tue 5 Jun 2018 07.58 BST

Africa’s oldest national park will close its gates to visitors until 2019 following the death of a ranger and the abduction of two British tourists by local rebels this year.

Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is home to a world-famous population of mountain gorillas but has been hit by rising instability and violence in the country.

At least 12 rangers have been killed in clashes with militia and smugglers in Virunga in the last 10 months, one of the bloodiest periods in the park’s history.

In May, one of the many local militia – known as Mai Mai – attacked a vehicle that had been carrying tourists from the city of Goma, about 30 miles from the park headquarters, to their accommodation. A park ranger, Rachel Makissa Baraka, 25, was shot dead, a Congolese driver was wounded and the two British tourists, Robert Jesty and Bethan Davies, were held by militia overnight.

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