Uganda US tourist kidnapped and held for 500000 ransom

first_imgThis article is more than 3 months old Security forces are hunting gunmen who abducted a 35-year-old woman and her driver inside a national park close to the border Topics Last modified on Wed 3 Apr 2019 17.09 EDT Shares7373 Share on Twitter Share on Twitter Numerous militia groups and armed gangs roam eastern DRC. Virunga suspended all tourism activities last year after a ranger was killed and two British tourists kidnapped. The Britons and their driver were freed two days after the attack. The park reopened in February; weeks later another ranger was killed.The Ugandan park straddles the equator, covering 1,978 sq km (764 sq miles) in the country’s south-west.It is also about 150km (90 miles) north of Bwindi Impenetrable national park, famous among tourists for gorilla trekking. Uganda is home to over half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas.In 1999, Rwandan rebels killed eight foreign tourists there, inflicting an enormous blow to Uganda’s tourist industry. The rebels were part of a militia group that was involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide before fleeing to the jungles of the DRC.Tourism is a key industry for Uganda, as a major earner of foreign currency. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit each year.The army spokesman, Brigadier Richard Karemire, insisted the kidnapping was “an isolated incident” and that Uganda remains safe for tourists.“The security agencies, including the military, are working together to ensure the tourist and the driver are freed unharmed,” Karemire said. Since you’re here… The Ishasha section of Queen Elizabeth national park, Uganda. Four kidnappers stopped a group of tourists on Tuesday as they drove through the park.Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo … we have a small favour to ask. The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. 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Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share via Email Support The Guardian Uganda Share via Email AFP in Kampala Share on Pinterestcenter_img Share on WhatsApp Ugandan security forces are hunting gunmen who abducted an American tourist and her driver inside a national park close to the border with Democratic Republic of Congo.Four kidnappers stopped a group of tourists at gunpoint around dusk on Tuesday as they drove through the Queen Elizabeth national park to see wild animals.Police identified the American as a 35-year-old woman, and said the kidnappers had later used her mobile telephone to demand a ransom of $500,000 (£380,000) for the release of the pair. The driver is a 48-year-old safari guide with years of experience.“The kidnappers, using the victim’s phone, have demanded $500,000,” police spokeswoman Polly Namaye said a statement. “We strongly believe this ransom is the reason behind the kidnap.”Two other tourists, whom police described as an “elderly couple”, were present when the gunmen attacked, but were not abducted or physically harmed. They managed to raise the alarm from the lodge where they were staying.The attack took place between 6pm and 7pm on Tuesday, police said.A day later, soldiers have fanned out along the porous border with the DRC, but as night fell, police said they believe the pair remain in the country.“A joint operation by the Uganda police, Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and Uganda Wildlife Authority game wardens is under way to locate and rescue them,” a government spokesman, Ofwono Opondo, said.“The priority at this point is to locate, rescue and bring them back to safety.”Uganda police’s tourist protection force has also deployed a special response unit.“The police have dispatched an elite squad from the tourism police to reinforce the security teams at Queen Elizabeth national park, to actively pursue a group of four unknown gunmen,” Namaye said.“Joint security teams have cut off all exit areas on the border between Uganda and the DRC in search for the victims,” she added.Queen Elizabeth national park, one of the east African nation’s most famous wildlife reserves, runs along the frontier with conflict-racked regions of the DRC, bordering its famous Virunga national park, the oldest in Africa. Share on LinkedIn Reuse this content Uganda: US tourist kidnapped and held for $500,000 ransom Share on Facebook Wed 3 Apr 2019 16.52 EDT Share on Facebook Share on Messenger ‘We know we may be killed’: the rangers risking their lives for Virunga’s gorillas news This article is more than 3 months old Read more Africa Ugandalast_img read more