6 Rangers Killed in Gorilla Park Ambush

A dozen of their colleagues were massacred in April
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2021 7:10 PM CST
6 Rangers Killed in Gorilla Reserve
In this Aug. 12, 2012 photo, park rangers patrol in the Virunga National Park near Rumangabo, some 40 miles north of Goma, eastern Congo.   (AP Photo/Jerome Delay,file)

The mountain gorillas of Virunga National Park in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are endangered, as are the rangers tasked with protecting them. At least six rangers were killed in an ambush Sunday, less than nine months after a dozen rangers and five civilians were massacred, the New York Times reports. Officials say the rangers killed in Sunday's attack were all between 25 and 30 years old. The attackers are believed to be members of one of the dozens of armed groups operating in the area, where militias are competing for power and resources, reports CNN. The rangers were armed, but officials say they were taken by surprise and had "no opportunity to defend themselves.

The park, Africa's largest tropical rainforest reserve, covers more than 3,000 square miles and is home to more than half the world's population of mountain gorillas. As one of the slain rangers, 30-year-old father of four Burhani Abdou Surumwe, was buried Monday, rangers raised their guns in salute and park director Emmanuel de Merode vowed that the work of the Congo Institute for Nature Conservation—ICCN—would continue, reports Reuters. “We are facing a situation that is extremely difficult, but which in no way erodes the conviction of all ICCN staff to continue our efforts," said de Merode, who was injured in a 2014 attack. (In 2018, the park was temporarily closed after a dozen rangers were killed in 10 months.)

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