'Horrendous': Prince William condemns attack that left six park rangers dead

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, speaks on stage during The Tusk Conservation Awards at Banqueting House in London on November 8, 2018. - The annual Tusk Conservation Awards celebrate the achievements of people who work protecting Africas wildlife and natural heritage. (Photo by Jeff Spicer / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read JEFF SPICER/AFP via Getty Images)
William during The Tusk Conservation Awards at Banqueting House in London in 2018. (Jeff Spicer/AFP)

Prince William has called an attack that left six park rangers dead “horrendous” and “condemns” the actions of those responsible.

Six rangers were killed at Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is home to endangered mountain gorillas. The youngest victim was 25.

The attack took place on Sunday morning and was confirmed by a spokesman for the park, Olivier Mukisya.

He said: “A group of armed men attacked our positions in the region of Nyamitwitwi in the middle of Virunga national park.”

Prince William plays the drums as the Shakarimba band, who have been flown in from Botswana to perform at the Prince's 21st birthday party on June 21, rehearse in the Queen's Guard Chamber at Windsor Castle. The Prince has chosen an "Out of Africa" theme for his party and the more than 300 family and friends who have been invited have been asked to wear fancy dress. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
Prince William with the Shakarimba band, who were flown in from Botswana to perform at the Prince's 21st birthday party in 2003. (Anwar Hussein/WireImage)
The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William (L) gives sports equipment to pupils during his visit Ol Maiso primary school in Laikipia, Kenya September 30, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Prince William (L) gives sports equipment to pupils during his visit Ol Maiso primary school in Laikipia, Kenya, in 2018. (Reuters/Thomas Mukoya)

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The Duke of Cambridge said: “The horrendous attack on staff at the Virunga National Park is abhorrent and I condemn the actions of those responsible in the strongest terms.

“Rangers who work tirelessly to protect both the national park and the neighbouring communities should be honoured not attacked. They should never find themselves in a position where their lives are on the line.”

The six men were named as: Surumwe Burhani Abdou, 30; Alexis Kamate Mundunaenda, 25; Reagan Maneno Kataghalirwa, 27; Eric Kibanja Bashenkere, 28; Innocent Paluku Budoyi, 28; and Prince Nzabonimpa Ntamakiriro, who was 27.

VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, NORTH KIVU, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO - 2016/05/17: A group of rangers pause in front of a field post that is a starting base for a visit to mountain gorillas. The Virunga park, created in 1925 under the name of Albert National Park, has a 7,800 km2 superficy and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park employs around 500 rangers who fight against poachers and illegal charcoal producers. (Photo by Thierry Falise/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Rangers at a field post in Virunga park, in 2016. The park's rangers are often in danger because of the situation in DR Congo. (Thierry Falise/LightRocket)
A baby mountain gorilla rides on its mother's back on the slopes of Mount Mikeno in the Virunga National Park, Eastern DRC December 12, 2008. REUTERS/Peter Andrews (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO)
A baby mountain gorilla rides on its mother's back on the slopes of Mount Mikeno in the Virunga National Park, in 2008. (Reuters/Peter Andrews)

One other ranger was wounded but his injuries were reported to be non-life threatening.

A statement shared online explained: “At approximately 07.30am local time, the Rangers were ambushed while on foot patrol inside the Park. The attack took place near Kabuendo, which is located near the border of the Park, in the Central sector, between Nyamilima and Niamitwitwi.

“Preliminary investigations indicate that the rangers were taken by surprise and had no opportunity to defend themselves, and that those responsible for the attack are local Mai-Mai groups.”

Mai-Mai groups refer to community based militia groups in the DR Congo. They have previously been linked to attacks on rangers and gorillas in the park.

GABORONE - JUNE 15: Prince William and Prince Harry meet a cheetah when they visit Mokolodi Education Centre on June 15, 2010 in Gaborone, Botswana.  The Princes are on a joint trip to Southern Africa and will visit projects supported by their respective charities Tusk Trust (Prince William) and Sentebale (Prince Harry).   (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Prince William and Prince Harry meet a cheetah when they visit Mokolodi Education Centre in 2010 in Gaborone, Botswana. The brothers have over the years forged strong links to Africa. (Samir Hussein/WireImage)
GABORONE - JUNE 15:  Prince William and Prince Harry hold an African rock python when they visit Mokolodi Education Centre on June 15, 2010 in Gaborone, Botswana.  The Princes are on a joint trip to Southern Africa and will visit projects supported by their respective charities Tusk Trust (Prince William) and Sentebale (Prince Harry).   (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Prince William and Prince Harry hold an African rock python at the Mokolodi Education Centre in 2010 in Gaborone, Botswana. (Samir Hussein/WireImage)

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The statement added: “Virunga National Park deeply regrets the tragic loss of life among its Rangers, who work tirelessly and with dedication to protect both the Park and the neighbouring communities from the tyranny of armed groups. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten nor be in vain.”

According to Reuters, more than 200 rangers have been killed in the last decade in the park, with the deadliest attack taking place last April, when 12 died.

Virunga has been UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site since 1979. The wildlife population has been under threat from poaching as well as a result of the Congolese civil war.

Prince William, 38, and his brother Prince Harry, 36, have a long association with the continent of Africa, and William proposed to his wife Kate in Kenya.

Harry has called Africa his second home and took his wife Meghan there early on in their relationship.

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