Three rangers and a technician were killed in the attack on their convoy by gunmen on Thursday near Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities said.
Stretching on the border with Uganda and Rwanda , Virunga Park is Africa's oldest reserve, renowned for being home to rare species including mountain gorillas . Militias, dozens of which operate in eastern DRC, also use the park as a rear base.
According to the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature ( ICCN ), supposed "Mai-Mai" militiamen ambushed Thursday morning against "a convoy of technicians assigned to development projects" in the territory of Lubero (province of North Kivu). The convoy was escorted by ICCN ecoguards, the institute said in a statement.
The term "mai-mai" refers to community militias. Three guards and a technical staff member were killed and six others injured, adds ICCN
Colonel Alain Kiwewa Mitela , military administrator of the territory of Lubero, also indicated that four people had been killed in this attack, which occurred near the village of Kivale , outside the Virunga park.
“It is Mai-Mai who are trying to control these places, but our armed forces are trying to neutralize them ,” he said.
Eastern DRC has been plagued for decades by violence from armed groups, many of which are inherited from the wars of the 1990s and 2000s.