Britons kidnapped in ambush at Congolese national park

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The Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) confirmed that one of its rangers was killed in the incident and that two British nationals were among three people abducted.

That attack brought the number of rangers killed on the job to 175 since the vast park in far eastern Congo was established in 1925, officials said. "Three people were kidnapped, including two tourists", park director Emmanuel de Merode said.

The UK Foreign Office said it was "in close contact with the authorities in Democratic Republic of the Congo following an incident involving two British nationals", in a statement Friday.

The rising death toll has earned the park, which is a Unesco world heritage site, a reputation as one of the most unsafe conservation projects on the planet.

It is Africa's oldest national park and is Africa's most biologically diverse protected area of some 7,800 square kilometres (3,000 square miles), according to its website.

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Virunga is home to about one-quarter of the world's remaining mountain gorillas, and the work of protecting them has proven risky.

The park, its rangers and the gorillas they protect are under constant threat from poachers as well as armed groups vying for power in the aftermath of a devastating civil war that claimed five million lives from 1994-2003.

Political instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had caused rising violence in the province of North Kivu, where the park, famous for its mountain gorillas population, is located.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel to Goma and urged Britons not to travel beyond the city.

On April 2, a park ranger died in another attack by armed men.

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