An American tourist and her driver have been rescued unharmed after being kidnapped in a national park in southwestern Uganda last week, the Ugandan authorities said on Monday (April 8).

Kimberley Sue Endecott, 35, was abducted by gunmen in Queen Elizabeth National Park, near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo, on April 2. The kidnappers later demanded a ransom of $500,000 for her release.

Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga said both the tourist and the guide were released after the kidnappers realised the implicit threat of use of force by Uganda security agencies.

Enanga said the authority was not involved in any arrangements to pay a ransom either with the family or the camp manager as police and government of Uganda does not encourage payment.

The gunmen’s identity is unclear but the area where the abduction took place was once roamed by fighters belonging to an anti-Kampala rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which is now mostly dormant. The group is still believed to have camps in eastern Congo.

Abductions and related attacks on tourists are rare in Uganda and the last such incident occurred in 1999.

Then, an American couple, four Britons and two New Zealanders were killed along with four Ugandan guides after being ambushed by gunmen in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a few kilometres south of the Queen Elizabeth park. Survivors said the killers appeared to be Congo-based Hutu rebels.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of most visited in the East African country, with tourists flocking there to see lions, hippos, crocodiles and various types of antelope.

Robert Waweru

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