JOHANNESBURG – A Tokyo woman was killed and a male traveling companion wounded by gunfire Thursday when their car was ambushed near Kafue National Park in southern Zambia.
The Tokyo travel agency that arranged the safari tour identified the deceased as Tsuneko Nogami, who was in her 60s, and the wounded man as Hirotsugu Iizuka, 66, also from Tokyo. The driver of the car, a Namibian national, was also wounded.
Hisahiro Kumazawa, president of the travel agency Dososhin, said in Tokyo that six Japanese — five tourists and a tour guide — were traveling in two four-wheel-drive vehicles when they were attacked on a main road about 35 km outside the national park.
The motive for the attack and the number of attackers involved were not immediately known.
Tour guide Toshiyuki Tsukiji, when reached by telephone from Kaoma, the Zambian city where the group fled after the attack, said Nogami died at a hospital in Kaoma and Iizuka was hit in the chest by a bullet fragment, which was removed during surgery.
The Namibian driver was hit in the arm, and flesh “flew out from his wound,” Tsukiji said.
Tsukiji, 53, said the attack occurred shortly after midday and the three victims were all riding in the second car. Gunfire also punctured one of the tires of the car.
After the attack, the driver continued to drive for a while despite his wounds, Tsukiji said.
The group later stopped passing safari cars in order to transport the driver to a hospital and change the flat, he said.
Tsukiji said he later drove the car that had been shot at to Kaoma, about 70 km west of Kafue National Park.
“I couldn’t see who attacked us and I don’t know how we were shot at,” Tsukiji said. He said he heard two shots.
In Tokyo, Kumazawa told a news conference that the gunfire apparently came from the side of the bush-lined road and said one South African visitor who was riding in a car behind the Japanese group “saw something like an AK rifle.”
Kumazawa said the Namibian driver alerted a colleague in the car in front by flashing his lights and Tsukiji reported the incident to the company’s Tokyo office by satellite phone. The shooting occurred at 7:35 p.m. Japan time.
The tourist group left Japan on Tuesday and was scheduled to return home Dec. 10.
Kumazawa said the five Japanese tourists — one student in his 20s and the rest in their 60s — have all traveled in Africa previously.
Iizuka had visited Africa about 40 times, while both Nogami and Iizuka were members of Savanna Club, a private group interested in Africa.
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