Published On: Sun, Apr 7th, 2019

American tourist and guide abducted in Uganda returned ALIVE after five days held hostage | World | News

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Armed captors demanded a ransom for Kim Sue Endicott and her Congolese guide Jean-Paul Mirenge’s release, which has been paid. Ms Endicott, of southern California, was in Queen Elizabeth National Park with a Canadian couple, when she was snatched, along with her guide on Tuesday evening. Gunmen held Marin and Barbel Jurrius, both 78, along with Ms Endicott and her guide, before “grabbing” and taking the pair away.

Kidnappers used Ms Endicott’s phone to demand £380,000 ($500k) for their safe return.

It is not yet known how much was paid.

The Canadians rushed to raised the alarm with the camp manager, sparking a hunt.

Their World Frontiers Safaris vehicle was found abandoned with the keys missing.

It is understood the Ugandan military was working in the search.

The FBI got involved with the hunt for the pair after demands for government help from Ms Endicott’s family.

Her cousin Rich Endicott, 62, blasted the US government for their reluctance to pay the ransom.

Speaking earlier this week said: “The family has done what’s been asked of them to do. I think it’s the government’s time to help us.

“I heard our secretary of state get on there and say we don’t pay ransom. OK, fine. Then get the Navy SEALS, get them on a plane and go save her. Don’t pay ransom. I’m good with that. But he didn’t say any of those things, and maybe they’re doing those things, but who knows?”

Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State advised against paying the ransom as it was against US policy.

He said earlier this week: “Please remember that any payment to a terrorist or a terrorist regime gives money so that they can seize more of our people.

“Even a small payment to a group in, say, Africa can facilitate the killing or seizure of tens or even hundreds of others, including Americans or foreign nationals in that region.”

Ms Endicott’s friend Pam Lopez said it was her dream to go on safari.

She told the Los Angeles Times: “I know she was planning this trip for a while, because it’s something that she’s always wanted to do.”

Tourist groups were keen to stress Uganda was still a safe destination.

Bashir Hangi, a Uganda Wildlife Authority spokesperson said: “This is a one-off incident, it’s an isolated incident. It is not something that happens regularly. It is not something that we are known for.

“It’s very unfortunate, it is regrettable but it happened.

“Our parks are very safe right now. Tourists are in the parks as I speak.

“Tourist activities are going on despite the incident. Because we have security in our parks, we maintain national parks and they are all very safe.

“That’s why you have not had such an incident before, and now that it has happened it has also opened our eyes to do some soul searching and see how can we best improve on the security of our people.”

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