Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
World News | By Joan Terry

Two British people captured in Democratic Republic of Congo released

Two British people captured in Democratic Republic of Congo released

A number of kidnappings have taken place in the park in the past six weeks.

Their vehicle was attacked on Friday in the Virunga National Park in North Kivu province, a famed haven for gorillas and other endangered species.

A spokesperson for the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) said: "For the moment the [ICCN] can not communicate much about the incident because the hostages are still in captivity".

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".

Mr Johnson said his thoughts were with Ms Baraka's family, the injured driver, "and the released British nationals as they recover from this traumatic incident".

The pair, whose release was arranged by guards at Virunga National Park, are uninjured and no ransom was paid, ITV News Africa Correspondent John Ray said.

Park Director Emmanuel de Merode said she showed "true bravery" in her work.

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"We want to convey our deepest condolences to her family and our honest gratitude for her courage in the service of Congo".

Violence in the UNESCO world heritage site has been on the rise in recent times, with armed groups staging raids on the park's resources, particularly charcoal.

The British Foreign Office confirmed it was in touch with the Congolese authorities following the incident and said its staff were supporting the tourists' families.

Established in 1925, Virunga is home to about a quarter of the world's population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as to eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, lions, elephants and hippos. It covers 3,000 square miles on the country's border with Uganda and Rwanda.

A female park ranger was killed in the attack, local media reported.

Together they have made the park the most risky in the world for rangers and conservationists to work in, with some 170 wildlife rangers killed there in the past 20 years, including five who were murdered along with their driver after an ambush last month.

The advice, last updated four days ago, says 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".

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