Murders and kidnappings are forcing Africa's oldest national park to close to visitors for a year.

Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo is home to endangered mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants and other wildlife.

"It is clear that the Virunga region is deeply affected by insecurity and that this will be the case for a certain time," park director Emmanuel de Merode said Monday. "So that Virunga can be visited in safety, much more robust measures are needed than in the past."

A ranger was killed and two British tourists and their driver kidnapped in Virunga last month. The Britons and driver were freed two days later.

But other attacks by armed convoys left five rangers, two soldiers and two civilians dead since April.

The entire Virunga region is plagued by violence as armed gangs and militias battle for control of the area's valuable natural resources.

Source: Voice of America

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