British tourists kidnapped in Congo are released

  • British tourists kidnapped in Congo are released

British tourists kidnapped in Congo are released

Two British tourists who were kidnapped on Friday in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been released, according to local and British officials.

The two freed British hostages said they were "very grateful for the excellent support" they had received.

Ranger Rachel Masika Baraka, aged 25, was killed during the kidnapping and a male member of staff from the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (CINC) was injured.

Soldiers have been deployed and park rangers launched an operation to find the two tourists who were ambushed by armed men at the Virunga National Park.

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

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson leaves the Foreign Office in Westminster, London, Britain, April 26, 2018.

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

In a statement, Mr Johnson said: "I am delighted to announce that two British nationals who were held hostage in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been released".

Park director Emmanuel de Merode said: "Ranger Baraka's life was tragically cut short in service to Virunga National Park".

Virunga is a Unesco world heritage site, covering 3,000 square miles on the DRC border with Uganda and Rwanda. Virunga Park is home to about one-quarter of the world's remaining mountain gorillas, and the work of protecting them has proven unsafe.

Alongside threats from poachers, rangers also have to reckon with armed militia groups fighting for territorial and natural resources in the region.

A fifth of the park's southern sector was deforested owing to illegal charcoal production, the park said.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel to Goma and has urged Britons not to go beyond the city.

Attackers have killed more than 175 people at the park over the past two decades, including five rangers and a driver just last month.