U.S. Tourist's Kidnappers Demand $500,000 Ransom in Uganda

(Bloomberg) -- Gunmen who kidnapped an American tourist and her driver in a Ugandan national park on Tuesday are demanding a ransom of $500,000, the East African nation’s government said.

Kimberley Sue Endecott, 35, and her driver, Jean Paul, were abducted in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park about 380 kilometers (236 miles) west of the capital, Kampala. The park is near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and adjacent to Virunga National Park, where two British tourists were held hostage by Congolese rebels in May 2018.

“We strongly believe the perpetrators and victims could still be trapped within our search area,” the Uganda Police said in a statement on Twitter.

An elderly tourist couple that was travelling with the victims reported the incident after the abductors left with their companions, the Uganda Police said.

Police ruled out a ransom payment, saying it would endanger other tourists in future, the Daily Monitor newspaper reported. Tourism is Uganda’s biggest earner of foreign currency, and authorities estimate the industry’s earnings jumped by about a fifth last year to $1.7 billion following a visit by musician and fashion designer Kanye West and his wife Kim Kardashian West.

Last year, a group of Congolese rebels ambushed a vehicle ferrying tourists to Congo’s Virunga, killed a park ranger and held two British citizens overnight near the Congolese town of Goma. The park, known for its endangered mountain gorillas, was closed to tourists following the incident and reopened in February.

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