UGANDA: The American tourist who was kidnapped has been released after the ransom was paid

Mrs. Kimberly Sue Endicott, an American woman and Mr. Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo, her Ugandan guide who were kidnapped while on safari over last past week have been freed, according to officials from Wild Frontiers, the safari company with which they were traveling.

The Ugandan police said in a statement on Sunday that the police and security forces “have rescued” the two kidnapping victims. However one official from the safari company, who asked not to be named, said the two have been released after the requested ransom of $500,000 was paid by Wild Frontiers.  

The Great Lakes Eye has learned that they were dropped off at a point near the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday. He asked not to be named because he was not authorized to provide details about the circumstances of the release.

Who are the kidnappers?

The identity of the kidnappers remains a mystery as Ugandan authorities refrain from revealing details about the circumstances of the release and motive behind the attack.  

Instead, Ugandan authorities through media outlets have reported the arrest of 44 Rwandan nationals in the same park. The Great Lakes Eye has learned that this was a diversionary game after a failed operation by CMI while recruiting for RNC.

On Friday 5 April, the Rwenzori east Regional Police Commander, Vincent Mwesigwa told reporters that 44 Rwandans were intercepted by traffic police officers at Katunguru aboard two passenger min-buses on Wednesday. “When they were asked to identify themselves, they all produced Rwandan Identity cards but had no migration documents allowing them entry into Uganda,” he said.

However, information from Gatuna border indicated that the said 44 Rwandans had been deported by Ugandan authorities and received by Rwandan immigration officials on 6th April 2019 at 1:30 a.m. They revealed that they were taken to Uganda through illegal entry points by people who promised them casual labor in tea plantations in Mbarara and Uganda, only to be arrested by Uganda police and detained for three days in police custody for not being in possession of valid travel documents.

Contrary to the police version that they were arrested while travelling in two passenger minibuses, they said that they were travelling in different vehicles and they did not know each other until they found themselves together in the police custody.

A source who intimated to Great Lakes Eye, however, assessed that considering the RNC intensified recruitment activities in Mbarara and Kasese districts, in western Uganda, it is most likely they were enticed by RNC operatives in conjunction with CMI who promised them jobs in Uganda with ultimate goal of forcibly recruiting them to join RNC bases in eastern DRC.

However, one should not rule out the involvement of FDLR and ADF-NALU terrorist groups in this kidnapping considering their attacks ravaging that area of Uganda bordering DR Congo.

Reports indicate a surge in violent activity by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). It has demonstrated growing virulence in this mysterious group operating on the borders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The number of violent events linked to ADF tripled in 2018, to 132 from 38 in 2017. Fatalities doubled to 415 over the same period. This includes the killing of peacekeepers from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), as well as civilians along the DRC/Uganda border. In all, the deaths of 700 civilians have been attributed to the ADF since 2014.

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