Virunga National Park is deeply saddened to confirm the deaths of two rangers during attacks on the park’s Central Sector on March 12th and 13th. A third ranger is missing in action.
Four ranger positions on the shores of Lake Edward were attacked by Mai-Mai militia. The coordinated attacks were carried out by over 120 rebels, beginning in the early hours of Saturday morning. The number represents an unprecedented cooperation amongst Mai Mai rebels to kill Virunga’s rangers. Both rangers were captured by the rebels before being summarily executed.
The park’s positions were recovered by Virunga’s rangers in a joint counter offensive with the Congolese National Army. During this process, one Mai Mai rebel was killed and one arrested. The bodies of both the fallen rangers were recovered and returned to their families. The search continues for the third ranger.
After flying to the scene of the attacks, Emmanuel de Merode, Director of Virunga National Park, said:
“Our rangers continue to bear the brunt of the instability in eastern Congo. They stand fearlessly on the frontline of the protection of civilians and their resources knowing that they are at risk of extreme violence. The situation is deplorable and we must honour their sacrifice by attempting to reduce this threat of violence. These rangers were killed in situations that may amount to war crimes in any other conflict.”
We call on all stakeholders to assist us in this matter by supporting Virunga and its rangers in their continued efforts. Our thoughts are with the families of these rangers at this time.
These deaths break the unfathomable barrier of 150 rangers lost in a decade here in Virunga, over ten of those in the last year alone. Despite the wide progress we make here in many areas, we cannot sustain these kind of losses in what is still the most dangerous conservation job in the world.”
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