KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — United States President Donald Trump on Monday urged Uganda to find the kidnappers of an American tourist who has been freed, amid conflicting reports over whether a ransom was paid for her release.
Kim Endicott of Costa Mesa, California was released by her abductors over the weekend and was to be turned over to the U.S. ambassador Monday, Ugandan police said.
Endicott and her Ugandan driver were both safe, after the five-day ordeal during which they were taken from Queen Elizabeth National Park across the border to Congo, according to Ugandan authorities.
Trump pressed Uganda’s government to capture the culprits Monday, tweeting: “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!” Over the weekend Trump tweeted that he was pleased the tourist and guide had been released.
Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga told a news conference in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, that he did not believe a ransom had been paid.
“I have indicated to you that we don’t do ransom,” he said Monday.
A Uganda-based tour official said, however, that a ransom was paid to secure Endicott’s freedom. The tourist was released, “not rescued,” after money was paid “otherwise she wouldn’t be back,” said a tourism professional with knowledge of Endicott’s trip. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Many officials, including from the U.S. Embassy, were involved in efforts to secure the release of the kidnapping victims, he said. He couldn’t say how much was paid or who paid.
Ugandan officials have said the kidnapping victims were rescued from armed kidnappers who are still at large.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Twitter that the security forces “shall deal with these isolated pockets of criminals.”
The kidnappers had demanded a $500,000 ransom after grabbing Endicott and her driver from a group of tourists on an evening game drive on April 2, police said.