By: Ayinde Summey
MAIN IMAGE: 12 rangers from the Virunga National Park in the DRC, famed for its gorillas, have been killed in an attack by suspected Hutu rebels. SOURCE: Francesco Ungaro, Pexels
A deadly armed attack on a village in the Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo has left 18 people dead.
According to park officials, among those killed in the raid by about 60 suspected members of Hutu militia Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) were 12 park rangers who were protecting a convoy of civilians.
Virunga is the oldest national park in Africa and is home to about half of the world’s gorillas drawing many visitors. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The park authorities said the attack near Rumangabo Village has resulted in substantial loss of life. Park staff and rangers were killed as they tried to defend villagers. However, a statement added, the information about the attackers was still not clear.
“At this time, all available information indicates that this was an attack on the local civilian population.”
While rangers and other workers were not the primary target many lost their lives helping villagers. About 200 rangers have been killed in past attacks.
The armed Hutu rebel group was formed in 2000 with the aim of countering Tutsi influence in the region. They are considered to be one of the last factions still involved in remnant battles arising from the 1994 Rwandan Genocide that resulted in the deaths of almost a million Rwandans.