Published: Mon, April 08, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Tourist Rescue Operation: Police Deny Knowledge of Ransom Payment

Tourist Rescue Operation: Police Deny Knowledge of Ransom Payment

Four unidentified gunmen kidnapped Kimberly Sue Endicott, 56, and her driver, Jean-Paul Mirenge, near a wilderness camp inside Queen Elizabeth National Park Tuesday evening.

But an official with Wild Frontiers Uganda Safaris, which organized Endicott's trip, said she was released and "not rescued" after the ransom was paid. A ransom was paid by Wild Frontiers, the safari company she was travelling with, after days of intense negotiations with the kidnappers, the reports said.

A Uganda-based tour official said, however, that a ransom was paid to secure Endicott's freedom.

Kimberly Sue Endicott was travelling in a auto on Tuesday on an evening game drive with Remezo and two other tourists in the national park when four men held them at gunpoint.

Army spokesman Brigadier Richard Karemire said security forces were doing all they could to track down the gunmen.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said at a Tuesday event for families of US citizens held captive overseas that he understands some people want to do anything to get their loved ones back but paying ransom would just lead to more kidnappings.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said at a Tuesday event for families of U.S. citizens held captive overseas that he understands some people want to do anything to get their loved ones back but paying ransom would just lead to more kidnappings.

Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said in a tweet that driver Jean Paul had also been rescued from Congo and that the kidnappers had escaped.

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"Otherwise she wouldn't be back", he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Kamuntu praised local communities near the park where Endicott was taken, saying: "The media and the communities surrounding the national park were co-operative and sympathetic".

The handover was "quiet and peaceful", the source added.

"The kidnapping happened between near Katoke Gate in the Queen Elizabeth National Park".

The identity of the kidnappers remained unknown.

President Donald Trump celebrated the rescue on Twitter, writing, "Pleased to report that the American tourist and tour guide that were abducted in Uganda have been released". It borders the famous Virunga national park, the oldest in Africa. "God bless them and their families!"

Cases of kidnap of tourists are extremely rare in Uganda and authorities have emphasized that point as Sue's case is most likely to negatively impact on the booming tourism industry. "Privacy considerations prevent us from commenting further at this time".

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