President Museveni has insisted that the country is safe even after the kidnap of a US tourist Kimberly Sue Endicott and her driver, Jean Paul Mirenge.
Kimberly and Jean Paul were rescued unharmed yesterday, having been abducted six days ago by unknown gunmen while on an evening game drive in the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
“Last evening, security officials briefed me about the rescue of American tourist Kimberly Sue and her Ugandan guide, Jean Paul Mirenge, who had been kidnapped by criminals in Queen Elizabeth National Park,” Museveni said.
“We shall deal with these isolated pockets of criminals. However, I want to reassure the country and our tourists that Uganda is safe and we shall continue to improve the security in our parks. Come and enjoy the Pearl of Africa,” he added.
Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of the East African nation’s most popular wildlife reserves, runs along the border with conflict-wracked regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It borders the famous Virunga national park, the oldest in Africa.
Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo wrote on Twitter that Endicott and Mirenge, were rescued “by Uganda security forces in the DRC”.
He added that “the kidnappers have escaped and operations continue”.
Ransom paid or not?
Police had said the kidnappers used Endicott’s mobile telephone to demand a ransom of $500,000 (445,000 euros) for the release of the pair
Quoting unnamed sources, the New York Times and ABC News said a ransom had been paid before the duo was released by the kidnappers.
Addressing a weekly press briefing, Police spokesperson Fred Enanga denied there was any money paid to the kidnappers as is being alleged by many.
“No ransom was paid to anyone. Police and the Ugandan government didn’t give anyone ransom because it is not our policy. If you think we are telling lies, you should ask the US embassy,”Enanga told journalists at police headquarters in Naguru.
On Sunday, the Tourism minister, Ephraim Kamuntu praised security for the job weldone in finding and rescuing the duo.
“The capacity of Ugandan security, know -how and strength enabled them to be rescued safe and sound.”
However, when asked about the whereabouts of the kidnappers, the minister could not divulge more information saying details would be shared later.
“We shall not do it until time is appropriate and those details will be given.”
Enanga told journalists that the operation to arrest the gunmen who had taken the duo hostage is still ongoing.
“At this stage we cannot provide specific details on how the rescue mission was accomplished, for future operational security and tactical reasons,” Enanga said.
“The operation to arrest the culprits is ongoing with the close coordination of our counterparts from the DRC, whom we have been working with for the last 5 days.”