3 Park Rangers, 5 Soldiers in Killed in Gorilla Habitat in Congo
Image: Rachel Cernansky
Funeral services were held yesterday for three park rangers and five soldiers who were killed by a rocket-propelled grenade while trying to secure a safe public passage in the Congolese side of Virunga National Park, where the world's only remaining mountain gorillas call home. Although unconfirmed, the attackers are believed to be members of the FDLR Rwanda militia. Three other park rangers are still in the hospital with serious injuries.
Voice of America quotes Joel Wengamulay, communications director for Virunga National Park:
"It was a very emotional ceremony this afternoon and all families and relatives were present. All rangers were also present to give last honors to their colleagues for their courage... Our colleagues were buried at the park cemetery where all wardens and rangers in service are buried."
The attack is the most serious in at least a year. Some background from AFP:
More than 130 park rangers have been killed in various conflicts between government and rebel forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996.
The 7,800 square kilometre (3,011 square mile) Virunga national park, established in 1925, is the oldest in Africa, and is home to around one-third of the world's population of rare mountain gorillas, as well as elephants, hippopotamus, buffalo and antelope.
Hutu rebels from neighbouring Rwanda have long been based in the park and regularly clash with government forces and other militant groups.
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