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DRC forces arrest two suspected kidnappers of US tourist

American tourist Ms. Kimberly Sue Endicott and a Senior Tour Guide, Jean-Paul Mirenge- Remezo, were kidnapped Tuesday, April 2 in Queen Elizabeth National Park and release after a ransom of US$3,000 was paid. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – Security agencies in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have arrested two men suspected to have planned the kidnap of a US tourist and her guide in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda last month.

The suspects, Alex Byamukama and Memory Derrick, who were arrested Goma Town last week, are to be extradited to Uganda to face trial.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said the suspects worked with Onesmus Byaruhanga, who was is currently on remand, to kidnap Ms Kimberly Sue and her guide Jean Paul Mirenge.

He said the two suspects had escaped arrested in connection with kidnap and robbery charges in 2013. Police have so far charged six other people for the kidnap of the US tourist and her guide. The six are Yoweri Mugabo, Hakim Tumwebaze, Denis Kyalisima, Adam Immaniraguha, James Hatangimana and Joram Akankwasa.

Kidnap and armed robberies on Uganda-DRC border are high but the police say most of them have been carried out by Ugandans working with Congolese militias. The Kanungu district vice chairman, Mr Gad Byomuhangi, attributes the increased cases of kidnaps in his district to laxity in security in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He said that some Ugandans could be behind the increased cases of kidnaps for a ransom because they easily cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo where nobody questions them.

Hardly a month after the kidnap of the US tourist, a family in Kanungu District paid a ransom of UGX3.5 million to suspected Congolese gunmen to release their two children whom they had kidnapped.

The gunmen on Easter Monday kidnapped Ronald Niwagaba, 18, and Dan Tweheyo, 16, all sons of Mr Enos Mirimo, a resident of Nyabirehe cell in Kanyantorogo sub-county, Kanungu district. They then demanded a ransom of $3,000 (about UGX10m).

According to Kigezi region police spokesman Elly Maate, the gunmen were calling the family using an MTN Uganda sim card.

“The relatives of the victims told the police that the kidnapped were rescued after paying a ransom of Shs3.5M= and all of them were in good health. Police inquiries in the matter is still going on because the kidnap case had been registered as CRR078/2019,” Mr Maate said on Wednesday.

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