Congo-Kinshasa: British Tourists Kidnapped in DR Congo Released After Two Days

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Until Friday's incident, no significant attack had been launched on tourists in the park for almost 20 years, despite scores of attacks on rangers and Congolese nationals living in or driving through the park, which hugs the Rwandan and Ugandan borders.

A park ranger was killed during the kidnapping, which took place near the village of Kibati just north of Goma.

A park ranger who tried to protect them was shot dead by the attackers.

Female park ranger Rachel Makissa Baraka, who was travelling with the pair, was killed and their driver injured when they were seized.

Earlier, tributes were paid to 25-year-old Ms Baraka, the eighth ranger to be be murdered at the park this year. We wish to extend our deepest condolences to her family and our sincerest gratitude for her bravery and service to Congo.

The Britons were among a group of people taken hostage, according to a spokesperson for the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN).

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The BBC's Louise Dewast, reporting from the country's capital Kinshasa, said there were armed groups operating in the park and there had been kidnappings before, with half involving a ransom demand. Park officials blamed Mai Mai militia members. It covers 3,000 square miles on the country's border with Uganda and Rwanda.

Virunga is home to about one-quarter of the world's remaining mountain gorillas, and the work of protecting them has proven unsafe.

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

A Foreign Office spokeswoman told AFP that the two Britons were not hurt and the ministry would continue to provide support to them and their families.

It said that United Kingdom government staff were not always in the area and the British embassy's ability to offer consular assistance could be "severely limited".

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