Militia kills ranger in Congo national park

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Militia kills ranger in Congo national park

Postby Todd » Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:46 pm

Militia kills ranger in Congo national park

(CNN) -- A militia killed a ranger in a Democratic Republic of Congo park where authorities are trying to protect endangered gorillas threatened by civil war, the park said.

A Mai Mai militia attacked a ranger station in the Virunga National Park on Thursday night and killed ranger Safari Kakule, according to a news release from the park. Another ranger was wounded in the attack, and one of the rebels was captured, the statement said.

The Mai Mai are community-based militias without specific political objectives, often involved in banditry and looting, the park statement said.

"It is not clear why the group attacked [the ranger station] but the attack went on for several hours during Thursday night and the rangers were heavily outnumbered," the statement said.

Seven rangers were at the station when the attack happened, according to the statement.

That area of the park is home to an isolated population of 18 endangered Eastern Lowland gorillas. The park also is home to about 200 of the world's estimated 700 mountain gorillas, the park has said.

The Virunga park's Web site said 15 additional rangers have been sent to the park, where they will be "strengthening the position, which we cannot abandon."

"Because of the arrest that the rangers were able to make, we have several leads on the perpetrators of the attack, who will be brought to justice," a statement on the Web site said.

More than 100 rangers returned to the park's gorilla sector late last year after hundreds of rangers fled the area in 2007 because of fighting involving ethnic Tutsi rebels, the Congolese army and militias.

Rangers and scientists were out of contact with the park's endangered gorillas for more than a year until rangers returned late last year, the park said.

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