US tourist, guide kidnapped in Uganda safe after ransom paid: Safari firm

Four kidnappers stopped a group of tourists at gunpoint in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Four kidnappers stopped a group of tourists at gunpoint in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.PHOTO: NYTIMES

KAMPALA (AFP) - An American tourist and a safari guide kidnapped by gunmen in a Ugandan national park have been recovered safe and sound after a ransom was paid for their release, a safari firm said on Sunday (April 7).

Police spokesman Polly Namaye, who did not confirm the ransom payment, credited the safe recovery of the pair "to the untiring efforts" of the search teams who were drawn from the police, military and the wildlife authority.

"The victims of last week's kidnapping have been recovered alive," Ms Namaye said.

Mr Mike Walker, manager of Wild Frontiers Safaris, said US tourist Kimberly Endicott and the guide, named only as Jean-Paul by a government spokesman, were "back safe".

"Ransom paid and people exchanged," he told AFP by text.

Referring to the ransom amount, Mr Walker said he did not know the "precise amount yet".

Police had said the kidnappers used Ms Endicott's mobile telephone to demand a ransom of US$500,000 (S$677,000) for the release of the pair.

Four kidnappers stopped a group of tourists at gunpoint around dusk last Tuesday as they drove through the Queen Elizabeth National Park on safari to see wild animals.

The gunmen dragged the pair from their safari vehicle, but left behind two other tourists, whom police described as an "elderly couple". They managed to raise the alarm from the lodge where they were staying.

Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of the East African nation's most popular wildlife reserves, runs along the border with conflict-wracked regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It borders the famous Virunga national park, the oldest in Africa.

Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo wrote on Twitter that Ms Endicott and Jean-Paul, were rescued "by Uganda security forces in the DRC".