Police used ransom money to track tourist kidnappers
Suspected kidnappers of US Tourist Kimbley Sue Endicott have been arrested. Endicott and a Ugandan tour guide Jean Paul Mirenge Remezo were kidnapped by four gunmen, who hijacked their safari vehicle from Queen Elizabeth National Park on April 4.
The gunmen had demanded a ransom of $500,000 (Shs 1.8 billion) using their victims’ cell phones. According to sources, the kidnappers received a negotiated sum of $30,000 (Shs 100 million) out of $500,000 they had earlier demanded to free Endicott and Mirenge.
But according to police, the two were rescued from the Democratic Republic of Congo by a joint effort involving the Uganda police force, Uganda Peoples Defence Forces-UPDF and sister security agencies. Reports indicate that the US military also provided support to Ugandan security forces to accomplish the mission. The support included intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets and liaison officers, according to US news outlets.
Endicott was handed over to the US Embassy in Kampala by Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola on Monday.
It is understood that two of the four gunmen have been apprehended. The two were only identified as Akimu Kiniga and Kwarishiima.
Sources said the suspects were flown from Kanungu district where they were tracked using a device which was placed in the ransom money they received before setting Endicott and Mirenge free.
According to the US based CBS news, the kidnappers are believed to be illegal fish traders and ivory smugglers.
Ugandan police tracked them down with the assistance of as many as 19 FBI agents from the US, who provided surveillance equipment.
The kidnappers “made almost nothing” from the ransom paid for Endicott’s release, despite their demand for half a million dollars.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga confirmed that there were some arrests made in regard to the kidnap. He, however, declined to divulge details. “I can confirm that there were some arrests but I am yet to get details. I will brief you when I get the information,” Enanga said.
US President Donald Trump on Monday tasked Uganda government to arrest the kidnappers before people can feel safe to come to Uganda.
“Uganda must find the kidnappers of the American Tourist and guide before people will feel safe in going there,” Trump tweeted. “Bring them to justice openly and quickly!”
However, the fate of six Ugandans kidnapped four days before Endicott and Mirenge’s kidnap remains a mystery. The kidnaps cast a shadow on Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of most visited tourist attractions flocked by tourists to see lions, hippos, crocodiles and various types of antelopes.