On Monday, June 4, the Virunga National Park (North Kivu) announced it would be closed to tourists until 2019, following a wave of attacks against tourists and park rangers. Between April and June, at least ten people were killed and two more abducted by suspected Maï-Maï militiamen. Further attacks in the area are possible in the coming weeks.
On May 21, suspected Maï-Maï militiamen ambushed a military convoy in the Rutshuru area of Virunga National Park, killing at least two soldiers and one civilian. Two British tourists were kidnapped by armed men in the village of Kibati on May 11. During the attack, a driver was injured and one park ranger was killed. The two tourists were released unharmed on May 13. On April 9, suspected Maï-Maï militiamen ambushed a vehicle belonging to park rangers in Virunga National Park, killing five rangers and their driver.
The government's limited presence in the DRC's eastern provinces, including North Kivu, as well as the presence of numerous armed groups and local self-defense militias have led to continued insecurity in the area. In 2017, North and South Kivu provinces recorded an increase in armed group activities. Humanitarian organizations have stated that security conditions in the Kivu regions present a major obstacle to delivering humanitarian assistance to those in need, as kidnappings, including of Congolese and foreign aid workers, are frequent in the area.
A number of Western governments advise their citizens against travel to the east and northeast of the country due to poor security conditions, including the presence of armed groups and a high risk of kidnapping. Professional security advice should be sought prior to travel.
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