Rwanda rebels Friday staged a deadly ambush in Virunga National Park killing multiple civilians, rangers and park staff.
Twelve of Virunga’s park rangers lost their lives protecting locals living near the boundary of the park.
This tragedy comes in the midst of assisting with efforts to reduce the spread of Ebola and now COVID-19.
Virunga’s rangers are true heroes, protecting not only wildlife, but defending the local communities in and around the park.
“We can confirm that a major attack by armed groups on Rumangabo village has today resulted in the devastating loss of multiple lives, including Virunga Park Rangers, other employees and civilians,” the national park management said.
The park said perpetrators of the attack are The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed rebel group active in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
An ethnic Hutu group opposed to the ethnic Tutsi influence, the FDLR is one of the last factions of Rwandan génocidaires active in the Congo.
It was founded through an amalgamation of other Hutu groups in September 2000, including the former Army for the Liberation of Rwanda (ALiR), under the leadership of Paul Rwarakabije.
It was active during the latter phases of the Second Congo War and the subsequent insurgencies in Kivu.
As of December 2009, Major General Sylvestre Mudacumura was the FDLR’s overall military commander.
He was the former deputy commander of the FAR Presidential Guard in Rwanda in 1994.
The FDLR made a partial separation between its military and civilian wings in September 2003 when a formal armed branch, the Forces Combattantes Abacunguzi (FOCA), was created.