Police has said it is holding an undisclosed number of people on allegations of kidnapping Kimberly Sue Endicott, an American tourist together with her tour guide, Jean Paul Mirenge, Congolese national on April 2, while on a game drive in Queen Elizabeth national park, South West of Uganda.
After the abduction, the captors used the victim’s phone to demand USD 500,000 ransom as prerequisite for their release, prompting joint security agencies in Uganda to launch an operation to have the hostages rescued. The two are said to have been released on Sunday April 7.
Police did not reveal details on how the mission was executed “for future operational security and tactical reasons” and Police spokesperson CP Fred Enanga, told reporters on Monday that Police and government of Uganda didn’t pay any ransom to release the victims.
He also said efforts were underway to arrest the culprits.
Enanga has Tuesday told reporters that “some” arrests have been made by a joint security effort, in relation to the abduction.
“We want to inform the public that the joint security team that is actively investigating the kidnapping incident and successful recovery of an American tourist Kimberly Sue Endicott and senior tour guide Jean Paul Mirenge, has made some arrests after establishing the identity of the kidnappers,” Enanga said on Tuesday.
He says the arrests followed several raids and extensive searches by security agencies in Kanungu district and neighbouring areas.
“We have arrested a few of them so far who are suspected to be involved in the kidnap of the two. You are all aware that we had an intelligence-led operation which in the early stages was calculated and tactical, but now is progressing unhindered because the victims were recovered successfully,” he adds.
Asked about the nationalities of the arrested suspects he said: “We have withheld the numbers and names of the suspects we have arrested so far, but all I can tell you is that they are all Ugandans”.
Enanga further applauded the joint security team for ensuring safe rescue of the victims despite the abductors being armed and in the “dynamic setting of the deep jungles of Ishasha”.
The arrest of the suspects comes a day after U.S President, Donald Trump asked authorities to ensure the perpetrators of the abduction are prosecuted quickly.
“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!” President Trump tweeted on Monday.
Media reports of ransom payment
Nile Post, an online publication on Monday quoted State Minister for Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda as admitting that a ransom was paid to have the duo released, a statement contrary to Police’s position on Monday.
When asked about it again on Tuesday, Enanga insisted that Police and government do not pay ransoms to kidnappers and that nothing of a kind happened in the Queen Elizabeth national park incident.
He said that despite media reports about paying a ransom, “I repeat after the communication by government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, who was very direct that it is a policy of government not to pay a ransom.”
Police is also on record that despite the many cases of kidnap that have happened, we have never come out to pay a ransom, Enanga said.
“It should come out clear that no ransom was paid on the side of government and police.”
He said journalists should approach whoever is claiming that a ransom was paid or participated in its payment to tell how much was paid, how, when and to whom.