Kidnapped American tourist, Ugandan guide released

Kimberly Sue (L) and  Jean Paul Mirenge

Kimberly Sue (L) and Jean Paul Mirenge

An American tourist and a Ugandan tour guide who were kidnapped on Tuesday last week by gunmen in Queen Elizabeth national park have been rescued.

Kimberly Sue Endicott and the guide, Jean Paul Mirenge, were kidnapped at gunpoint during an evening game drive on Edward track between Katoke Gate and Wilderness camp in Kanungu district. The gunmen left two other elderly tourists, Julius Martin and his wife Barbel, in the tour van unharmed but took away the car keys. 

The kidnappers who were using Kimberly's phone, demanded $500,000 (about Shs 1.8 billion) as ransom for their release. Unconfirmed reports indicate that an unspecified amount of money was paid to the kidnappers by the tour company, Wild Frontiers.

Last week, the US government maintained that it does not pay ransoms for kidnapped citizens because this would just encourage more abductions. According to the New York Times, Paul Goldring of Wild Frontiers paid the money to the kidnappers, who then dropped off the duo at the Ugandan border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bashil Hangi, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) spokesperson confirmed the rescue on Sunday. He however declined to explain more about the matter saying that UWA and security are still drafting an official statement explaining how everything went. 

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. 

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd