DR Congo: British tourists kidnapped in Virunga National Park

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Two British citizens have been kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

Congolese soldiers and park rangers are searching for two British tourists kidnapped in the country's volatile eastern borderlands, an army spokesman said.

Joel Wengamulay, spokesman for the Congolese Institute for The Conservation of Nature, told the United Nations -backed Radio Okapi that the kidnapping occurred Friday in the Nyiragongo territory just north of Goma.

Just last month, on April 9, five park rangers and their driver were killed in an ambush which saw a sixth park ranger injured.

Virunga is home to about one-quarter of the world's remaining mountain gorillas.

The pair are understood to have been taken while visiting the renowned Virunga National Park, in the North Kivu province, on Friday morning.

In Eastern Congo there are many armed groups that compete for mineral-rich land.

There are more species of mammals, birds and reptiles in the park than anywhere else on Earth, and almost a third of the world's 1,000-odd mountain gorillas.

The area, known for its mountain gorillas, has seen a number of killings and kidnappings in recent years.

He said the park is protected by around 800 rangers but there are also estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 militia in and around the park.

And in a separate incident a park ranger guarding a hydroelectric plant died in an attack by armed men.

Last year, a fifth of the park's southern sector was deforested owing to illegal charcoal production.

The Foreign Office has issued warnings not to travel to large parts of the DRC. "They are an extremist Islamic movement operating to undermine the government of Uganda", de Merode said.

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