Monday 19 March 2018

Six Congo rangers found safe, but US journalist still missing

Two British journalist were able to escape the raid
Two British journalist were able to escape the raid

Six Congolese rangers have been found safe in a large forest reserve a day after a security station was attacked by militia, but an American journalist and at least three other security guards remain missing, a local official said.

Mambasa territory administrator Alfred Bongwalanga Efoloko confirmed that the six had been found.

At least 10 people had gone missing after an attack on Friday by the Mai Mai militia outside the town of Mambasa in Congo's Okapi Wildlife Reserve, he said.

No details about the missing journalist were immediately available and authorities had no proof the attack was an abduction, he said.

Army reinforcements have been deployed since Friday night to search for those missing, he said.

"I am optimistic they will all be found," Mr Efoloko said.

"The forest is very big. Maybe they fled in another direction. According to testimony of their colleagues, the attack came as the team wanted to go have a meal and there was a lot of crossfire."

Two British journalists and five other park rangers, part of the same team, escaped after the attack - making their way to another Okapi reserve base, he said.

The park rangers are part of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation.

The Centre for Studies of Peace and Defence of Human Rights said earlier that a journalist had disappeared with 11 park security guards.

It also identified Friday's attackers as the Mai-Mai SIMBA, saying they attacked in Bapela, 25 miles south of Mambasa.

The group's executive director, Omar Kavota, expressed concern for those missing.

A Congolese civilian was also kidnapped on Friday near Mambasa by armed men, he said in a statement.

Kidnappings for ransom are common in eastern Congo.


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