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Missing American tourist, Ugandan driver found

By Vision Reporter

Added 7th April 2019 07:11 PM

The abductors had demanded for $500,000, but the Police insisted they would not pay them any ransom.

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American tourist Kimberly Sue Endecott (inset) was abducted while on a game drive alongside her Ugandan driver in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The abductors had demanded for $500,000, but the Police insisted they would not pay them any ransom.

SECURITY

The female American tourist Kimberly Sue Endecott, 35, and her safari driver Jean-Paul Mirenge have been rescued, five days after armed men abducted them in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

According to sources, the two returned safely on Sunday afternoon.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen. Sabiiti Muzeyi confirmed the development, commending a joint security rescue operation.

“Yes, she is rescued. We are with them right now,” Muzeyi told New Vision.

The Special Forces Command (SFC) and Police are some of the security agencies that participated in the operation together with the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).

According to sources, Kimberly and Mirenge were found near the Uganda border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The abductors had demanded $500,000, but the Police insisted they would not pay them any ransom.

It is not yet clear whether any money was paid to secure their release.

Ugandan security forces were since last week hunting for the men who according to reports, stopped a group of tourists at gunpoint as they drove through the park to see wild animals.

Police at the time said the kidnappers had later used Endecott's mobile telephone to demand a ransom for the release of the pair. Mirenge is a 48-year old safari guide with years of experience.

"The kidnappers, using the victim's phone, have demanded $500,000," police spokeswoman Polly Namaye said a statement. "We strongly believe this ransom is the reason behind the kidnap."

Two other tourists, whom the Police described as an "elderly couple", were present when the gunmen attacked but were not abducted or physically harmed. They managed to raise the alarm from the lodge where they were staying.

The attack took place between 6:00 pm and 7:00 pm (1500-1600GMT) on Tuesday, the Police said.

A day later, soldiers fanned out along the porous border with DR Congo, but as night fell, the Police said they believe the pair remain in the country. Uganda Police's tourist protection force was also deployed a special response unit.

Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of the East African nation's most famous wildlife reserves, runs along the frontier with conflict-wracked regions of DR Congo, bordering its famous Virunga national park, the oldest in Africa.

Queen Elizabeth National Park straddles the equator, covering 1,978 square kilometres (764 square miles) in the country's southwest.

It is also about 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, famous among tourists for gorilla trekking. Uganda is home to over half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas.

In 1999, Rwandan rebels killed eight foreign tourists there, inflicting an enormous blow to Uganda's tourist industry. The rebels were part of a militia group that was involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide before fleeing to the jungles of DR Congo.

Tourism is a key industry for Uganda, as a major earner of foreign currency. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit each year.

Army spokesman, Brigadier Richard Karemire, insisted the kidnapping was "an isolated incident" and that Uganda remains safe for tourists.

 

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