Kampala. Latest information shows that the kidnapped US tourist and her Ugandan guide were dumped by kidnapers in the bush where they found their way back to their camp.
The US national, Ms Kimberly Sue Endicott and the Ugandan guide, Jean Paul, were kidnapped on gunpoint in Queen Elizabeth National Park last Tuesday while on an evening game drive on Edward track between Katoke gate and Wilderness Camp in Kanungu District.
They were released by the kidnappers on Sunday reportedly after payment of an unspecified ransom.
It is not clear how or where the hostages were found, but sources said upon payment of the ransom, the kidnappers released them and they found their way out.
Residents hired a boda boda rider who transported them back to their Wild Frontiers Camp at Ishasha on the Uganda-DR Congo border.
The source said the Wild Frontiers, a local tour agency, then informed the security that the hostages had been released safely and the security officials picked them up for further information gathering.
There are pictures showing Ms Kimberly riding on a boda boda with two other local passengers.
The source said US commandos joined the search and rescue operation mounted by the Ugandan army, police and Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers.
Daily Monitor could not readily establish what role the US security personnel played during the operation, but the source said they took part in “security discussions and strategy development.” The source did not elaborate.
After the release, some of the US commandos were captured in pictures talking to Ms Kimberly. At some point, she is seen talking to the commandos, bare-footed, looking frail and distressed.
Yesterday US President Donald Trump asked the Ugandan government to hunt the kidnappers and bring them to book.
“Uganda must find the kidnappers of the American tourist and guide before people will feel safe in going there. Bring them to justice openly and quickly,” President Trump tweeted.
Police yesterday said the Uganda government wrote to DR Congo seeking joint operations to apprehend the kidnappers.
Police said investigations revealed that the victims were kept in captivity in DR Congo for several days.
Mr Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson, said the police and army of both countries will coordinate the hunt for the kidnappers on either side of the border.
“We understand that the kidnap victims were taken to DRC. The two countries are working together to ensure that the criminals are apprehended,” Mr Enanga said yesterday.
The Inspector General of Police, Mr Martins Okoth-Ochola, yesterday handed over the American tourist to the US Embassy in Kampala.
Mr Enanga said police are also investigating whether the kidnappers have a local network in Uganda.
There were reports that the kidnappers were paid a ransom to release the victims.
However, Mr Enanga denied any involvement in the payment of a ransom.
“The police does not believe in paying ransom because it is like accepting the demands of the kidnappers,” he said. Mr Enanga said the ransom has not worked in previous kidnap incidents. He cited the kidnap of Suzan Magara, who was killed after a Shs700m ransom had been paid.
On January 7, armed Congolese militia kidnapped a resident of Munyaga cell in Western Ward of Butogota Town Council and demanded a ransom of Shs2m.
Mr Elly Maate, the area police spokesperson, said the case was registered at Kanungu and he was released after his relatives paid a Shs1.5m ransom.
In August last year, suspected armed Congolese militia shot and injured three businessmen in Queen Elizabeth National Park and kidnapped the fourth trader, Robert Mugabe.
They demanded a ransom of $20,000 (about Shs74m) for Mugabe’s release and he was released after relatives paid $7,500 (Shs28m) to the kidnappers. The businessmen were travelling in a lorry transporting fish to DR Congo.