An American woman was kidnapped Tuesday evening in Uganda and is now being held for a $500,000 ransom.
According to a press release from the Uganda Police Force, 35-year-old Kimbley Sue Endecott was kidnapped with her tour guide, Jean Paul, while on a game drive in Uganda in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The kidnappers were four unidentified gunmen who requested $500,000 in ransom money using Endecott’s phone.View image on Twitter
According to NPR, American officials have not yet confirmed Endecott’s identity and the State Department is “aware of reports of a U.S. citizen kidnapped in Uganda. Local security forces are responding to the incident.”
Two other tourists described in the press release as an “elderly couple,” Martin Julius and his wife Barbel, were left unharmed but without keys in the car the group had been using on their game drive.
The Uganda Police Force has sent out an elite squad of Tourism Police who have secured an area between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in which they hope that the kidnappers are currently trapped, according to their press release.
In the press release, the Uganda Police Force says that they strongly believe the ransom money was the kidnappers’ motive and assure the public that this incident is not a common occurrence. “We want to further reassure the public that this is the first of 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,” Deputy Police Spokesperson ACP Polly Namaye said.
“Strengthened safety measures have been put in place for both the local residents and visitors. We appeal for any information that could lead us to apprehend the suspects and rescue the victims.”
This kidnapping comes the same day U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a Washington event that paying ransoms to terrorists only encourages them.
“Please remember that any payment to a terrorist or a terrorist regime gives money so that they can seize more of our people,” Pompeo said Tuesday at the U.S. Diplomacy Center. “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.”
“We also know for a fact that some terror groups don’t seize Americans because we won’t pay,” Pompeo said. “It’s a trend I want to continue.”
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