KAMPALA – President Donald Trump asked Uganda to find the abductors of a U.S. tourist and her guide to reassure guests of security, even after the East African nation’s leader said the incident is isolated and that the parks are safe.
“Uganda must find the kidnappers of the American tourist and guide before people feel safe in going there,” Trump said Monday on Twitter.
Kimberly Sue Endicott and local guide, Jean Paul Mirenge, were abducted on April 2 in Queen Elizabeth National Park about 380 km (236 miles) west of the capital, Kampala. The park is a popular tourist destination because of its tree-climbing lions, hippopotamuses, elephants, and over 500 bird species.
Trump’s comments came after the vacationer and guide were rescued, and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni tried to reassure tourists that the country is safe. The state will enhance security in its national parks to deal with “isolated pockets of criminals” such as those who snatched the two last week, Museveni said Monday on Twitter.
Tourism is Uganda’s biggest source of foreign currency and authorities estimate its earnings jumped by about a fifth last year to $1.7 billion following a visit by U.S. musician and fashion designer Kanye West and his wife, Kim Kardashian West.
Endicott and Mirenge were freed Sunday in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo after five days in captivity, but their abductors escaped, Uganda government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said by phone.
Police said Sunday evening that the two were in good health. They’ll be given time to partly recover before being interviewed by security officials, Opondo said, without giving further details.
A payment was made to secure their release, AFP reported Sunday, citing Mike Walker, manager of Wild Frontiers Safaris, the company that conducted the tour. The abductors had earlier demanded a $500,000 ransom using Endicott’s mobile phone.
Authorities aren’t “aware that a ransom was paid,” Opondo said.