BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Gunmen killed two rangers in Congo’s Virunga National Park on Sunday, the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) said in a statement, the second attack this month in the troubled east of the country.
The attack took place near Rwindi in North Kivu province, north of another attack on May 18 in which three rangers and a worker were killed.
Mai Mai militia fighters were likely to blame, ICCN said, based on its sources. Reuters was unable to confirm this and Mai Mai could not be reached for comment.
The Mai Mai include several armed gangs that formed to resist two invasions by Rwandan forces in the late 1990s. They have since morphed into a variety of ethnic militias, smuggling rings and protection rackets.
Virunga is a vast expanse of deep forests, glaciers and volcanoes, with more species of birds, reptiles and mammals than any other protected area in the world.
It was caught in the midst of militia activity that has destabilized the surrounding regions since the civil wars that unfolded around the turn of the century.
ICCN warned of a resurgence of violence in February after suspected Mai Mai militants killed a ranger in a third attack.
(Reporting by Erikas Mwisi, Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Bernadette Baum)