Wednesday April 3, 2019
Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s most popular tourist destination. Photo/ Uganda Tourism Center
KAMPALA - An American woman and her
driver have been kidnapped at Uganda’s most popular wildlife park by
gunmen demanding a ransom of $500,000, police said on Wednesday.Kimberley
Sue Endecott, 35, and Ugandan driver Jean Paul were on a game drive in
Queen Elizabeth National Park when four gunmen ambushed their vehicle on
Tuesday evening, a police statement said.
Various illegal groups from Somali Islamists to
Congolese-based rebels sometimes operate in Uganda, but the kidnappers’
identity was not known.
An elderly couple also at the scene were not taken and raised the alarm.
suspect the kidnappers left them because they were elderly. They took
all their possessions,” said Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo.
Endecott and the couple, whose relationship was unclear, entered Uganda
on March 29 and flew the next day to the park in the country’s
southwest, the spokesman added.
The Somali Islamist militant group
al-Shabab has carried out attacks in Uganda in the past, but has never
been known to kidnap anyone for ransom there.
The park, Uganda’s
most visited, is located about 400 km (250 miles) southwest of the
capital Kampala, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo
(DRC), which is home to many fragmented rebel groups.
Police said the kidnapping appeared financially motivated, since the group quickly made a demand using Endecott’s mobile.
joint security teams have cut off all exit areas on the border between
Uganda and the DRC in search of the victims,” the statement added,
warning the group may still be in the park.
The U.S. embassy in Kampala said it would be issuing a statement later.
1999, an American couple, four Britons and two New Zealanders were
killed along with four Ugandan guides when their group was ambushed by
gunmen in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Survivors said the
killers appeared to be Congo-based Hutu rebels.
about 20 km (12 miles) south of Queen Elizabeth National Park, where
tourists flock to see lions, hippos, crocodiles, chimpanzees and other
African wildlife in an area of lakes, savanah, forests and swamps.