At least 17 people were killed in an attack on civilians at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Friday. The victims included 12 park rangers, four civilians and a driver with the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN). Four others were injured.
Virunga, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of Africa's oldest and most biologically diverse protected areas. It is also one of the last places where mountain gorillas can be found in the wild.
According to a statement by the park management, the guards were killed "while coming to help a civilian vehicle which had come under fire by the assailants."
While no group has claimed responsibility, local leaders believe that Rwandan Hutu militia FDLR is responsible. The park is located along the country's borders with Uganda and Rwanda.
Virunga has often come under attack by local militias and poachers, resulting in the deaths of over 170 park rangers in the past 20 years. A major concern is wrestling control over the mineral resources in the area.
see/aw (dpa, AP, AFP)