World News

Two Britons kidnapped in Virunga National Park

Posted May 11, 2018 7:51 a.m. EDT
Updated May 11, 2018 11:25 a.m. EDT

— Two British nationals have been abducted following an incident Friday at the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The UK Foreign Office said it was "in close contact with the authorities in Democratic Republic of the Congo following an incident involving two British nationals," in a statement Friday.

It added that it was currently providing support to next of kin.

Park spokesman Vianney Harakandi earlier told CNN there was a "kidnap" situation involving foreign tourists. One female park ranger was "wounded" and was taken to the hospital for treatment. Her condition is unclear.

The park was alerted to the incident at 10 a.m. (5 a.m. ET) and immediately deployed security staff to assess the situation, he said.

Virunga National Park, which lies in the eastern part of the country, is Africa's oldest park and also its most biologically diverse, with a varied landscape of active volcanoes, savannahs, mountains, lakes and forests.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, it is home to about a quarter of the world's critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as eastern lowland Grauer's gorillas, chimpanzees, okapi, elephants and lions.

Its mountain gorillas, which live on the flanks of a dormant volcano in the park's southern sector, are perhaps the biggest draw for tourists who venture across the border from Rwanda.

However, tourism has suffered badly as militant groups and criminal gangs continue to fund a long-running war by pillaging the park's resources.