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Uganda Denies Paying Ransom for Release of Tourist, Driver


FILE - Ugandan riot police patrol on the streets of the Kamwokya neighborhood.

Ugandan police deny a ransom was paid in the rescue of American tourist Kimberly Sue Endecott and her driver Jean Paul. The two were rescued in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, five days after their abduction in a Ugandan national park.

American tourist Kimberly Sue Endecott and her Ugandan driver Jean Paul were abducted last Tuesday afternoon in Queen Elizabeth National Park, which borders Congo.

On Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted about the abduction. He said, "Uganda must find the kidnappers of the American tourist and guide before people will feel safe in going there. Bring them to justice openly and quickly."

Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga says Endecott and Paul were recovered Sunday, but gave little detail about how the rescue was accomplished.

"This was a high-risk operation and we had identified the hideout," Enanga said. "The pressure was there of a last resort move in, that there was an implicit threat of the use of force by our elite teams that we had on ground. But as the police and the government of Uganda, we don't do ransom."

He says neither captive was harmed. Endecott was handed over to the U.S. ambassador to Uganda on Monday afternoon.

Enanga says the operation to arrest the kidnappers is still ongoing with support from the Congolese security. He used this opportunity to warn future kidnappers.

"The successful recovery of the captives serves as a reminder to those enemies who want to harm our own people including visitors," Enanga said. "That we will do everything possible within our means to defend them."

This was the first kidnapping of any foreign tourists in Uganda in 20 years. In 1999, armed Hutu fighters from Congo entered Bwindi Park and killed eight tourists and four Ugandans.

After a brief meeting with security officials Monday morning. Uganda President Yoweri Museveni tweeted saying, they will deal with these isolated pockets of criminals.

He reassured the country and tourists that Uganda is safe, urging them to come an enjoy the "Pearl of Africa." He also promised that security will be improved in the parks.