Virunga National Park has become the battleground in a new conflict, as conservationists fight off the advances of rebel militias, poachers, and a powerful oil company. Emanuel de Merode thinks that drilling would be a potential disaster not just for Virunga and its fragile ecosystem, but for the rule of law, the region's stability and all of Congo's National Parks. SOCO denies any responsibility for the attack, but its powerful Congolese supporters cannot be excluded from the list of suspects. Written by Martin Fletcher.
The BBC has seen evidence that British firm Soco made payments to a Congolese army major accused of using violence to intimidate oil exploration opponents. The BBC's DR Congo reporter Maud Jullien says the months the company spent exploring for oil in the park, a Unesco World Heritage site, angered campaigners and sparked international outrage. Written by Africa
The SOCO oil company is actually from British. In joint statement with WWF, the company said: "Soco has agreed with WWF to commit not to undertake or commission any exploratory or other drilling within Virunga National Park." Virunga was designated a world heritage site in 1979. Many park rangers have been killed and last month the Virunga chief warden, Emmanuel de Marode, was shot and seriously wounded. Soco stopped exlporing for oil in Virunga. Written by John Vidal