Two die in Congo attack on WWF vehicle
Two people were killed and three injured, including a WWF staff member, when a WWF vehicle was attacked in Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday.
The vehicle was travelling with 11 people in the Nord-Kivu sector of the vast territory, famed for sheltering more than half the world’s 700 remaining wild mountain gorillas, when it was ambushed by armed men.
Two women - the wife of a park warden and an 18-year-old home-help - were shot dead.
Members of the Congolese conservation institute ICCN were also travelling on board. The attackers made off with GPS devices and other personal belongings.
Congolese radio quoted local officials who attributed the attack to Mai-Mai resistance fighters looking for money or other valuables. It appears it was not an act directed at ICCN or WWF in particular.
Militia in the region have frequently carried out attacks, violating a January ceasefire signed by all Congolese armed groups. Virunga National Park spreads across the DR Congo-Rwanda border.
The injured included Méthode Bagurubumwe, WWF officer in charge of boundary demarcation in southern Virunga, who was shot in the foot.
An ICCN ranger was shot in the arm, and a third woman, also the wife of a ranger, was shot in the arm and leg. All three are recovering and being treated at Nyamilima, 150 kilometres north-west of provincial capital Goma.
The incident occurred after a member of WWF’s technical staff had delivered a training session to ICCN rangers in Lulimbi station in the eastern sector of Virunga.
He returned with a driver in a pick-up vehicle, also carrying seven ICCN rangers and five civilians, all directly related to the rangers.
On their way back the vehicle was attacked by about 15 armed bandits near Kasoso in the central part of Virunga National Park. The bandits fired at the vehicle and the two women were killed.
While people escaped in the bush bandits stole various belongings in the car. A nearby motorist was also attacked but managed to escape and he gave the alert. The army quickly reacted and managed to retrieve the vehicle and bring the injured to a nearby dispensary.
The injured are being transferred to hospital in Goma and support is being organized for the bereaved families.
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