In Summary
  • Their vehicle was attacked on Friday in the Virunga National Park in North Kivu province.
  • Their park guard was killed and their driver was also kidnapped.

  • One of the most important conservation sites in the world, Virunga Park covers 7,800 square kilometres.

DR CONGO,

Two British tourists who were kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been freed, the UK government and Congolese park officials said Sunday.

Their vehicle was attacked on Friday in the Virunga National Park in North Kivu province, a famed haven for gorillas and other endangered species.

Their park guard was killed and their driver was also kidnapped. The Britons were released unharmed, while the driver was injured, the British government said.

"I am delighted to announce that two British nationals who were held hostage in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been released," UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in a statement.

"I pay tribute to the DRC authorities and the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation for their tireless help during this terrible case.

"My thoughts are now with the family of Virunga Park ranger Rachel Makissa Baraka, who was killed during the kidnapping, and with the injured driver and the released British nationals as they recover from this traumatic incident."

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.

Park director Emmanuel de Merode, from Belgium, also paid tribute to Makissa Baraka, saying: "We are deeply saddened by the death of the eco-guard of the park, while protecting the passengers and driver.

"We want to convey our deepest condolences to her family and our sincere gratitude for her courage in the service of Congo."

According to local press reports, the Congolese army reacted quickly in their attempt to try to find the kidnapping victims.

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