WASHINGTON D.C., July 9, 2008 – World Wildlife Fund (WWF) officials said today they have received confirmation that two people were killed and three injured in an attack on a WWF vehicle in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo on July 7. A WWF staff member was among those injured.
The vehicle was traveling in the Nord-Kivu sector of the area, which is known for sheltering more than half of the world’s 700 remaining wild mountain gorillas, when it was ambushed by armed men. It is believed that the attack was organized by bandits looking for money and other valuables and was not directed at conservation officials in particular.
The bandits mortally wounded the wife of a park ranger and a home helper travelling with her. Members of the Congolese conservation institute ICCN were also traveling in the vehicle. The injured were transported to a hospital and support is being organized for the bereaved families.
Militia in the region have frequently carried out attacks, violating a January ceasefire signed by all Congolese armed groups. The Virunga park spreads across the DRC-Rwanda border.
“We are deeply saddened and alarmed by this incident,” WWF officials said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones and with those injured. We will continue to support conservation efforts in this very critical region