Six park rangers have been killed in an attack at a mountain gorilla national park.
Tragedy struck at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The rangers were patrolling the edge of the park in the African country when they were ambushed by gunmen.
The park confirmed the employees who died were Burhani Abdou Surumwe, 30, Kamate Mundunaenda Alexis, 25, Maneno Kataghalirwa Reagan, 27, Kibanja Bashekere Eric, 28, Paluku Budoyi Innocent, 28, and Nzabonimpa Ntamakiriro Prince, 27.
Another ranger is receiving treatment in hospital and his injuries are said to be no longer life-threatening.
The park, which is home to endangered mountain gorillas, has blamed the attack on militia group Mai-Mai who operate in the DRC.
Local government official Alphonse Kambale said two militant were also killed.
The park said in a statement: “The loss of life among the park wardens is all the more unjustified as they deploy immense efforts to protect the park and the neighbouring communities from the tyranny of armed groups. Their sacrifice will be remembered forever.
“The guards of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature are agents of the Congolese State responsible for the implementation of the law.
“They do not have a military status and their action does not fall under the law of armed conflict. No effort will be spared to bring the perpetrators of this despicable new attack to justice, while respecting the rule of law.
“These tragic events will not stop the development programs led by the Virunga National Park for the benefit of neighbouring communities.”
The park is Africa’s oldest nature reserve, spanning spanning 7,800 sq km (3,000 sq miles).
More than 200 park rangers have been killed, with 13 losing their lives in an ambush last April.