Female Park Ranger Dead; 2 British Hikers Freed

Bethan Davies and Robert Jesty were ambushed in Democratic Republic of Congo
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2018 4:44 AM CDT
Kidnappers Free 2 British Hikers, but Park Ranger Dead
This is an undated handout photo issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Bethan Davies and Robert Jesty, the two Britons who were kidnapped during a visit to a national park in eastern Congo.   (Foreign and Commonwealth Office via AP)

A pair of British hikers looking for adventure in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been freed after being kidnapped, but a 25-year-old park ranger is dead. British authorities said Sunday that Bethan Davies and Robert Jesty had been freed after gunmen ambushed their vehicle in Virunga National Park on Friday, reports the BBC. During the ambush, the gunmen killed Rachel Masika Baraka, who was one of 26 female rangers at the park. She is believed to be the first female ranger killed at Virunga, which Reuters explains is located in a still-volatile region near Uganda and Rwanda but remains a draw for tourists worldwide because of its endangered mountain gorillas and active volcano. She is the eighth park ranger overall killed in this year alone.

The details of how the hostages were freed remain murky, but ransom negotiations had been underway. The gunmen took the British pair on foot, along with their driver, who was eventually freed before the Brits. "One of them said to me ‘I will leave you here, if (they) find you, tell them we need $200,000 and if they keep on chasing us, we will kill these two,'" the injured driver tells the Telegraph. The kidnappers later reduced their demand to $30,000, according to another story in the Telegraph. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced the release but did not say whether any ransom was paid. "I pay tribute to the help of the DRC authorities and Congolese Institute of Nature Conservation," Johnson tweeted. "My thoughts with the family of the ranger tragically killed during the kidnapping." (More Democratic Republic of Congo stories.)

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