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Fighting in the gorilla sector of Virunga National Park
18 October 2007

In early September 2007 rebel soldiers moved into the gorilla sector of the Virunga National Park, DR Congo, taking control of the ranger patrol posts and preventing the rangers from carrying out their regular gorilla monitoring duties.

The rebel soldiers are from General Nkunda’s troops, a force that claims to be fighting to defend the ethnic Tutsi minority. Nkunda told the BBC that he accuses the Congolese government of backing Hutu militias who fled into Congo after the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda.

As a result of the rebel invasion, the Congolese Army entered the park and fighting broke out between the two forces. Much gunfire and violence has been exchanged in recent weeks and according to the BBC over 370,000 people have been displaced.

The Congolese army has now re-gained control of the Bukima patrol post and fighting between the two parties has been reduced. Talks have been taking place between the government and Nkunda and we wait to hear the results of these conversations.

We sincerely hope that this situation will be resolved soon and that gorilla monitoring will be resumed in the very near future.
for further information or photographs contact:

David Hewitt, Communications Manager
The Gorilla Organization, 110 Gloucester Avenue, London, Nw1 8HX
Tel: 020 7916 4974
Mobile: 07801 971123
david@gorillas.org
www.gorillas.org