KAMPALA (Reuters) – An American lady and her driver have been kidnapped at Uganda’s hottest wildlife park by gunmen demanding a ransom of $500,000, police mentioned on Wednesday.
Kimberley Sue Endecott, 35, and Ugandan driver Jean Paul have been on a recreation drive in Queen Elizabeth Nationwide Park when 4 gunmen ambushed their car on Tuesday night, a police assertion mentioned.
Numerous unlawful teams from Somali Islamists to Congolese-based rebels typically function in Uganda, however the kidnappers’ id was not recognized.
An aged couple additionally on the scene weren’t taken and raised the alarm.
“I think the abductors left them as a result of they have been aged. They took all their possessions,” mentioned Ugandan authorities spokesman Ofwono Opondo.
Califonia-based Endecott and the couple, whose relationship was unclear, entered Uganda on March 29 and flew the subsequent day to the park within the nation’s southwest, the spokesman added.
The U.S. embassy in Kampala had no additional info to supply. “We take critically any threats in opposition to U.S. residents overseas. Safety forces are responding to the incident,” it mentioned in a press release.
The Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab has carried out assaults in Uganda previously, however has by no means been recognized to kidnap anybody for ransom there.
The park, Uganda’s most visited, is positioned about 400 km (250 miles) southwest of the capital Kampala, close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which is house to many fragmented insurgent teams.
Police mentioned the kidnapping appeared financially motivated, because the group shortly made a requirement utilizing Endecott’s cellular.
“The joint safety groups have lower off all exit areas on the border between Uganda and the DRC looking for the victims,” the police assertion added, warning the group should be within the park.
In 1999, an American couple, 4 Britons and two New Zealanders have been killed together with 4 Ugandan guides when their group was ambushed by gunmen within the Bwindi Impenetrable Nationwide Park. Survivors mentioned the killers gave the impression to be Congo-based Hutu rebels.
Bwindi begins about 20 km (12 miles) south of Queen Elizabeth Nationwide Park, the place vacationers flock to see lions, hippos, crocodiles, chimpanzees and different African wildlife in an space of lakes, savannah, forests and swamps.
Writing by Katharine Houreld; Modifying by Kevin Liffey and Andrew Cawthorne