US tourist released after ransom payment

American tourist Kimberly Sue Endicott and her tour guide, a Congolese national Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo, who were kidnapped in a Ugandan wilderness park and held five days by armed captors were returned unharmed on Sunday afternoon after a ransom was paid for their release.

While Ugandan authorities are not mentioning anything about the ransom, credible international media outlets indicated that before the pair was released by its armed captors, a ransom was paid by Kimberly’s family through Wild frontiers Safaris Uganda, a tour agency with which Kimberly went to visit Queen Elizabeth National Park.

She was kidnapped by four armed men in military uniform who later used her mobile phone to demand for $500,000 (Shs 1.8 billion) ransom.

According to various American publications, Kimberly and Mirenge were freed in a negotiated handover, but it was not immediately known how much was paid to secure their release.

They were taken back to their safari lodge in Kanungu district, Western Uganda.

Police on its Twitter handle did not indicate that any ransom money was paid.

News of the kidnapped victims’ release came after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) got involved in the search.

“The family has done what’s been asked of them to do. I think it’s the government’s time to help us,” Kim Endicott’s cousin, Rich Endicott, a 62-year-old banker from Phoenix, Arizona, told the Associated Press.

Government Spokesman Ofwono Opondo in a tweet said, the kidnappers had fled.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a government body responsible for the national parks was keen to reassure tourists that Uganda’s national parks are safe to visit.