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Kidnappers free tourists captured on wildlife trek

Safe: Bethan Davies and Robert Jesty were released by their captors yesterday

TWO British tourists kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been freed by their captors.

Bethan Davies and Robert Jesty were abducted on Friday in Virunga National Park, home to mountain gorillas.

During the kidnapping, 25-year-old park ranger Rachel Baraka, an ‘ecoguard’ for the group, was shot dead and their driver injured. She was the first female ranger to die in the park, which has now seen 175 killed by the militias.

Devoted to job: Rachel Baraka

Announcing the pair’s release, foreign secretary Boris Johnson said yesterday: ‘I pay tribute to the DRC authorities and the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation for their tireless help during this terrible case.

‘My thoughts are now with the family of Virunga Park ranger Rachel Makissa Baraka who was killed during the kidnapping, and with the injured driver and the released British nationals as they recover from this traumatic incident.’

Armed escort: Tourists are led through the park by ‘ecoguards’ Bella PICTURE: FALK/CATERS

Fellow park rangers said she was ‘a devoted conservationist who died in the line of duty’. One added: ‘Her only thought would have been the safety and security of visitors.’ Last month, five young rangers and a driver were killed in a militia ambush at the park famed for its gorilla sanctuary.

The Mai-Mai have been robbing tourists, while concentrating on western visitors because of the high ransom demands they can potentially make.

Soldiers at an Army base a few hundred yards from where the latest kidnapping took place were criticised for their slow response.