Virunga National Park is A UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s known as Africas oldest and most biologically diverse protected area.
Today the park was a scene of terror. It was one of the deadliest attacks in the park, Africa’s oldest and most biologically diverse protected area.
The park was closed in March in line with WHO guidelines Authorities hoped to resume tourist operation on 1st June but with the latest incident, it is very unlikely. There was s similar attack s couple of years ago in which a ranger was killed while escorting a British tourist.
Besides 12 park rangers, a driver and four other civilians were killed in the attack in Goma, for which no person or group has claimed responsibility, the governor of the Nord Kivu province said in a statement.
The following announcement was released by Park Authorities earlier today.
It’s with great sadness that Virunga National Park confirms, that on Friday there has been a significant attack by armed groups near Rumangabo Village that has resulted in substantial loss of life.
This includes civilians, Virunga employees, and Virunga Park Rangers. At this time, all available information indicates that this was an attack on the local civilian population. Virunga Park Rangers were not the target of the assault but lost their lives responding to the attack in defense of the local population. This is a devastating day for Virunga National Park and the surrounding communities.
Our thoughts are with the families and friends of all the victims as well as the injured, some of whom are fighting for their survival.
Virunga National Park is a national park in the Albertine Rift Valley in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was created in 1925 and is among the first protected areas in Africa. In elevation, it ranges from 680 m in the Semliki River valley to 5,109 m in the Rwenzori Mountains.
The UNESCO-listed site is spread over 7,800 square kilometers (3,000 square miles) over the borders of DR Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.
It is home to a world-famous population of mountain gorillas but has been hit by rising instability and violence.
Inaugurated in 1925, the park has witnessed repeated attacks by rebel groups, militias, and poachers.
A total of 176 of its rangers have been killed in the last 20 years In another attack, in the northeast Ituri region on Thursday, seven civilians were killed by militiamen.
Sources blamed that attack on members of CODECO – whose official name is Cooperative for the Development of Congo – an armed political-religious sect in Ituri drawn from the Lendu ethnic group.
Cuthbert Ncube, chairman of the African Tourism Board condemned the attack and related the organization’s condolences to the victims’ families.