Progress reported in bid to block oil exploration in Congo park where endangered gorillas live

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GENEVA (AP) — An environmental organization said Friday it is making progress in its bid to block a proposal to dig for oil in a national park in Africa where 200 gorillas live.

Switzerland-based WWF said the British government was backing some of the concerns raised by the organization over the human rights and environmental record of London-based SOCO International PLC in Congo's Virunga National Park.

The park, which is Africa's oldest, is a World Heritage site and is listed by UNESCO as being "in danger" The park is also home to the endangered mountain gorillas.

According to the WWF, SOCO has "breached the most respected global corporate social responsibility standards in its pursuit of oil" and has violated good-practice business guidelines set out by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

WWF claims that SOCO has intimidated, unlawfully detained activists and withheld information about the environmental and social risks of its activities.he

SOCO, which denies the allegations, said it is looking for a facilitated mediation between itself and WWF that hopefully brings agreement.

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