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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

American woman kidnapped on Ugandan safari is freed

Security forces rescued Kimberly Endicott and her guide after they were taken across the border to the DRC

Cape buffalos are among the wildlife that attracts visitors to the Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda. EPA
Cape buffalos are among the wildlife that attracts visitors to the Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda. EPA

An American tourist and her driver who were kidnapped in Uganda have been rescued by security forces after being taken across the border to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a Ugandan government spokesman said on Sunday.

Kimberly Endicott, and her safari guide, Jean-Paul Mirenge, are both healthy and are "in the safe hands of the joint security team," Ugandan police said on Twitter.

US President Donald Trump and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni both welcomed the news.

"Pleased to report that the American tourist and tour guide that were abducted in Uganda have been released. God bless them and their families!" Mr Trump tweeted.

Mr Museveni insisted his country was safe for tourists to visit. "We shall deal with these isolated pockets of criminals," he said.

Ms Endicott and her driver were dragged from their car by four men on April 2 during an evening safari in Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda.

The park is one of the country's premier tourist attractions and is home to a range of wildlife, including elephants, hippos, lions and crocodiles, but rebel groups are also active on its border with the DRC.

Kimberly Endicott was kidnapped in Queen Elizabeth National Park on April 2.
Kimberly Endicott was kidnapped in Queen Elizabeth National Park on April 2.

The authorities did not say if a ransom was paid for Ms Endicott and her guide, but Mr Mirenge told AFP that money was handed over, although he did not know the amount. Kidnappers demanded $500,000 (Dh1.8 million) for their release.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he understood that some people would do anything to rescue their loved ones but insisted that paying ransoms would lead to more kidnappings.

On Sunday, the Saudi embassy in Uganda said they were searching for a Saudi man missing on the Nile River.

“Communication with Ugandan authorities is ongoing and the search continues to find Mothker Al Subaie. We are in contact with his relatives and are doing all that we can to return him safely to the homeland,” the Saudi mission said.

Updated: April 8, 2019 03:52 PM

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