May 13 (UPI) — Two British tourists have been released unharmed by the captors in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced Sunday.
“Delighted that two British nationals held hostage in DRC have been released,” Johnson posted on Twitter. “I pay tribute to the help of the DRC authorities and Congolese Institute of Nature Conservation.”
On Friday, the tourists and a driver were ambushed en route from Kibumba to Goma after visiting Virunga national park, where one-quarter of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas reside.
A park ranger, Rachel Makissa Baraka, 25, travelling with the pair, died when the others were seized during a visit to the Virunga national parky in the rugged mountains and volcanic plains adjacent to neighboring Rwanda and Uganda.
“My thoughts with the family of the ranger tragically killed during the kidnapping,” Johnson wrote on Twitter.
The British citizens are receiving “support and medical attention,” according to a statement by Virunga National Park. Their driver was injured and released after the abduction Friday in the village of Kibati, just north of Goma,
Baraka was one of the park’s 26 female rangers. In the past 20 years, 175 rangers have died protecting Virunga national park, including five young rangers and a driver killed last month in a militia ambush. The park covers 300 square miles.
Because rebel groups still control large portions of the territory, the Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to the cities of Goma.
“Terrorist attacks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo can’t be ruled out. Attacks could be indiscriminate,” the Foreign Office wrote. “You should be vigilant, especially in places visited by foreigners.”
The park was founded in 1925 by King Albert I of Belgium. Originally given his namesake, Albert National Park was the first national park to be established on the continent of Africa. The park was renamed Virunga National Park in 1969.