Wildlife rangers in Zimbabwe accidentally killed two Italian residents — a father and son — who were assisting with an anti-poaching patrol, Zimbabwean authorities said Monday.

The pair joined the anti-poaching deployment after gunshots were heard in the protected Mana Pools park, said a statement from the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.

Rangers who were following the spoor of suspected poachers on Sunday afternoon "saw movement in the thicket, heard voices and opened fire, accidentally shooting and killing" the Italian pair, the statement said.

Italy's Foreign Ministry confirmed the deaths of Claudio Chiarelli, originally from the northern city of Padua, and his son Massimiliano Chiarelli.

The Italian daily il Mattino di Padova said Claudio Chiarelli ran safaris for tourists.

___

Associated Press writer Colleen Barry contributed to this report from Milan.