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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Kidnapped US tourist and guide freed in Uganda after ransom

An American woman and her safari guide who were kidnapped in a Ugandan wilderness park and held five days by armed captors were returned unharmed on Sunday after a ransom was paid for their release, authorities said.

Kim Sue Endicott of Southern California and her tour guide, Congolese national Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo, were freed in a negotiated handover, officials said.

Kimberly Endicott, 35, and Jean-Paul Mirenge were violently abducted as they drove through the Queen Elizabeth National Park on the evening of 2 April.

Ugandan Police said then that kidnappers used one of their phones to demand a ransom of $500,000.

Search teams from the military, the Ugandan wildlife authority and a special police tourist protection force worked together to rescue Ms Endicott and Mr Mirenge.

Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo tweeted that they were rescued “by Ugandan security forces in the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo]”, and that they were now in Kanungu in Uganda.

Queen Elizabeth National Park runs along part of the country’s border with DR Congo.

Agence France-Presse quotes the tour company, Wild Frontiers Safaris, saying that the pair were freed after a ransom was paid to their kidnappers.

US President Donald Trump also tweeted about the rescue: “Pleased to report that the American tourist and tour guide that were abducted in Uganda have been released. God bless them and their families!”

After the kidnapping, police officials had said that a group of four gunmen “put the tourists on gun point, and grabbed two out of four tourists, before disappearing with them”.

The other two tourists – reportedly an elderly couple – were rescued soon afterwards.

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