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Tours & Travel

Canadian couple safe after witnessing kidnapping of American tourist in Uganda

Mountain Gorilla trekking is one of the most enterprising tourism activities in Kigezi sub-region. (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – An elderly Canadian couple came face-to-face with armed gunmen while on safari in Uganda this week, but managed to escape unharmed.

Global Affairs Canada confirms two Canadian citizens were present during an ambush of tourists in the country on Tuesday.

Spokesman Richard Walker says the couple is safe and has been provided with consular services.

Ugandan security forces are searching for a U.S. citizen and a local driver who were abducted in Queen Elizabeth National Park, and authorities say the kidnappers have demanded a $500,000 ransom.

Kimberley Sue Endecott, 35, and Ugandan driver Jean Paul were on a game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park when four gunmen ambushed their vehicle on Tuesday evening, a police statement said.

The statement added that an elite unit of the Tourism Police had been dispatched to actively pursue the kidnappers and successfully recover the victims.

“The joint security teams have cut off all exit areas on the border between Uganda and the DRC in search of the victims,” the statement added, warning the group may still be in the park.

Police said the kidnapping appeared financially motivated since the group quickly made a demand of $500,000 (Shs1.9b) using Endecott’s mobile.

The police was quick to reassure any tourists planning to visit the national park, saying the kidnapping was an isolated case. ‘‘Strengthened safety measures have been put in place for both the local residents and visitors.’‘

Abductions in Uganda’s protected areas are rare. Queen Elizabeth National Park, in southwest Uganda along the porous border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a popular safari destination also home to many fragmented rebel groups.

The Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab has carried out attacks in Uganda in the past but has never been known to kidnap anyone for ransom there.

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