Brits snatched in DR Congo national park ‘very relieved’ after being freed from kidnap ordeal

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
<em>Bethan Davies and Robert Jesty have been freed after being kidnapped in DR Congo on Friday (PA)</em>
Bethan Davies and Robert Jesty have been freed after being kidnapped in DR Congo on Friday (PA)

A pair of Britons who were kidnapped while visiting a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo have said they are ‘very relieved’ that their ordeal is over.

Bethan Davies and Robert Jesty were rescued on Sunday after being snatched in Virunga National Park on Friday.

In a statement issued on their behalf, they said: ‘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.’

A female park ranger, 25-year-old Rachel Makisa Baraka, who was travelling with the pair was killed and their driver injured during the abduction.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in a statement: ‘I am delighted to announce 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.

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‘My thoughts are now with the family of Virunga Park ranger Rachel Makisa 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 park’s spokeswoman refused to comment on how the situation was resolved and whether or not the kidnappers had been apprehended.

Park director Emmanuel de Merode said in a statement: ‘Ranger Baraka’s life was tragically cut short in service to Virunga National Park.

<em>The pair said they were ‘very relieved’ that their ordeal was over (PA)</em>
The pair said they were ‘very relieved’ that their ordeal was over (PA)

‘She was one of the park’s 26 female rangers and was highly committed, showing true bravery in her work.

‘We 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 as armed groups stage raids to steal resources, particularly charcoal.

<em>Virunga National Park has seen rising violence in recent months (Rex)</em>
Virunga National Park has seen rising violence in recent months (Rex)

Last month five young rangers and a driver were killed in a militia ambush, the park said.

It was the deadliest attack in recent years and took the total number of rangers killed to 175.

Virunga is a Unesco world heritage site, covering 3,000 square miles on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s border with Uganda and Rwanda.