An American citizen has been abducted in Uganda while touring the country on Wednesday.
Police confirmed that Kimbley Sue Endecott, 35, was one of four tourists held at gunpoint by two armed individuals, and she and her tour guide were kidnapped, Newsweek reported Wednesday.
Gunmen kidnapped an American tourist and her driver in a Ugandan national park and are demanding a $500,000 ransom, authorities say https://t.co/DtaZoNzfOF
— Bloomberg (@business) April 3, 2019
The kidnappers ambushed the group of four individuals at the Wilderness Camp at Queen Elizabeth National Park. The two other tourists escaped and were able to contact police.
Uganda authorities said they deployed an elite team from the Tourism Police Unit to establish security teams and set out to find the armed kidnappers.
“All security agencies such as the Uganda Police and the Uganda People’s Defense Forces including wardens from the Uganda Wildlife Authority have joined in the hunt for these outlaws with the main aim of safely securing the hostages,” the tourist board and wildlife authority’s statement said. “The lives of the kidnapped are a key priority during this process. We appeal for calm as we find a lasting solution to this issue.”
Press Release on the kidnapped tourist pic.twitter.com/2zwwIpcQhD
— Uganda Police Force (@PoliceUg) April 3, 2019
“We strongly believe the perpetrators and victims could still be trapped within our search area, and we are hopeful that our efforts will lead to their successful recovery,” Polly Namaye, deputy spokesperson with the Uganda Police Force, said in a statement. “We want to further reassure the public that this is the first…incident of this kind registered in such a very peaceful setting, and those planning to visit the National Park and its surroundings should not be discouraged.”
Authorities said Endecott’s phone was used by the kidnappers to demand a ransom of $500,000.
“We strongly believe this ransom is the reason behind the kidnap,” the Uganda Police Force said in a statement.
Officials said they believed Endecott and her tour guide, Jean Paul, were still nearby, but did not know where they were being held.
“We strongly believe the perpetrators, and victims could still be trapped within our search area, and we are hopeful that our efforts will lead to their successful recovery,” the police statement added.
The Queen Elizabeth National Park is the most popular national park in Uganda for its offering of more than 600 bird species, and 95 different species of mammals over an area encompassing more than 750 square miles.
The U.S. government issued an advisory in December 2018 stating that those visiting Uganda should “exercise increased caution” due to “violent crime, such as armed robbery, home invasion, and sexual assault,” which is a common and continuing problem due to inadequate police resources.