Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Kidnapped Britons released in Democratic Republic of Congo

Bethan Davies and Robert Jesty the two British nationals taken hostage in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Credit: Home Office

Two Britons who were taken hostage in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been set free, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said.

Bethan Davies and Robert Jesty, were kidnapped while visiting the Virunga National Park, a renowned gorilla sanctuary in the east of the African country, on Friday.

Ranger Rachel Masika Baraka, aged 25, was killed during the kidnapping and a male member of staff from the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (CINC) was injured.

Mr Johnson said: “I am delighted that two British nationals who were held hostage in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been released.

"I pay tribute to the DRC authorities and the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation for their tireless help during this terrible case.

"My thoughts are now with the family of Virunga Park ranger Rachel Makissa Baraka who was killed during the kidnapping, and with the injured driver and the released British nationals as they recover from this traumatic incident.”

The pair released a statement through the Home Office on Sunday night.

"We are very relieved that there has been a positive outcome to the kidnapping and are very grateful for the excellent support we have received. We do not plan to comment further," the said.

Their release was arranged by guards at Virunga National Park, are uninjured and no ransom was paid, ITV News Africa Correspondent John Ray said.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

Sorry, this content isn't available on your device.

Earlier on Sunday, the park confirmed Ms Baraka's death "with deep sadness".

"Ranger Baraka was critically injured whilst protecting two passengers and the driver of the vehicle they were travelling in, when it was attacked by armed assailants," a statement from Virunga National Park said.

"Following the incident, Ranger Baraka was transferred to a nearby hospital to receive emergency medical treatment. Shortly afterwards, she sadly died of her injuries."

Ranger Rachel Masika Baraka was killed in the kidnapping.

Park Director Emmanuel de Merode said she showed "true bravery" in her work.

He said: "We wish to extend our sincerest condolences to her family, and our thoughts are with all those affected by this incident.”

The park has seen rising violence in recent months - eight rangers have been killed since the start of 2018 - as armed groups attempt to steal resources like charcoal. Five young rangers and a driver were killed in an ambush last month.

Virunga is a Unesco world heritage site, covering 3,000 square miles on the DRC border with Uganda and Rwanda.

It is home to to around a quarter of the world's critically endangered mountain gorillas and other endangered species as well as lions, elephants, hippos and a host of rare bird species.