Monday, April 24, 2006

Sanctuary chimps kill driver, injure three others

A group of chimpanzees attacked and killed a Sierra Leonean driver overnight and injured two American visitors and one Canadian at a wildlife sanctuary in the West African nation, a police spokesman said.

Paramilitary police and forest rangers were searching dense jungle to see if they could capture the chimpanzees after the attack at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary on the outskirts of Sierra Leone's capital Freetown.

"The driver was killed on the spot while the three surviving victims, the Americans and the Canadian, sustained serious wounds," Sergeant John Kamara, an officer at the Regent Police Post near the Tacugama reserve, said.

No immediate reason for the attack was given but police said the large group of chimpanzees suddenly turned on the visitors to the sanctuary, biting and tearing at their clothes.

The driver killed was employed by the Tacugama reserve. The injured survivors, who worked for a construction company in Sierra Leone, were taken to a hospital in Freetown.

The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary was set up in 1995 to give shelter to orphaned and abandoned chimpanzees.

It houses nearly 70 apes living in a semi-wild environment in which they have access to fenced enclosures of rainforest as well as large cages where they spend the night.

Police said they were anxious to capture the chimpanzees to stop them attacking local villagers or motorists using the nearby Regent-Hasting road.


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