Two Britons kidnapped in Democratic Republic of Congo

Unidentified armed men ambushed a group on Friday morning inside the Virunga National Park.

"With Virunga National Park being within our zone of action, we have joined the park rangers for search operations for the people taken hostages", said regional army spokesman Major Guillaume Kaiko Ndjike on Saturday.

In April, five rangers and a driver were killed in an ambush, the park's worst loss of life.

Established in 1925, it is home to about a quarter of the world's population of critically endangered mountain gorillas, as well as to eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, lions, elephants and hippos.

De Merode, a Belgian national, was himself wounded in a road ambush between the park and Goma, the capital of North Kivu, in May 2014.

The UK Foreign Office said in a statement: "We are in close contact with the authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo following an incident involving two British nationals, and our staff are providing support to their families".

In an interview with National Geographic previous year, Virunga National Park Director Emmanuel de Merode said three main groups are responsible for the violence in the park.

The Virunga Mountains are one of only two places in the world where the mountain gorilla is found.

Reports that two Britons have been kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being investigated by the Foreign Office.

DRC is still recovering from a bloody civil war that raged between 1997 and 2003, and the recent surge in violence has concerned aid agencies, who warned the country was "on a cliff edge". The other location is the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Park officials blamed Mai Mai militia members.

  • Rogelio Becker