Gunmen killed at least six rangers and injured several more in an ambush in Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, a sanctuary for endangered mountain gorillas, said the park.
The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear, said Olivier Mukisya, a spokesperson for Virunga. Previous attacks on rangers have been blamed on various militias fighting to control land and natural resources in eastern Congo.
“We confirm this sad news. A group of armed men attacked our positions in the Nyamitwitwi area in the middle of Virunga National Park, ”Mukisya told Reuters.
Over 200 rangers have been killed in the past, including 12 last April in the deadliest attack of this kind in recent memory.
Dozens of armed groups operate in eastern Congo, many remnants of militias that fought in civil wars at the turn of the century that claimed millions of lives from conflict, hunger and disease.
The Virunga are found on the forest covered volcanoes of Central Africa and are home to more than half of the world’s mountain gorilla population.
It is Africa’s oldest national park and the largest rainforest reserve, covering 7,800 km2 (3,000 square miles).