Five days after an American tourist and her guide were kidnapped at gunpoint, they have reportedly been released in exchange for an unspecified ransom.
According to ABC News, Kim Sue Endicott of California and her guide, Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo, of Congo, were at the Queen Elizabeth National Park when kidnappers took them hostage and demanded a $500,000 ransom for their release.
As of reports Sunday that they had both been released and were apparently in good physical condition, it was still unclear where the ransom came from or what amount was agreed upon in negotiations.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made it clear in a statement last week that the nation has historically refused to pay ransoms in exchange for the release of kidnapped Americans.
“Please remember that any payment to a terrorist or a terrorist regime gives money so that they can seize more of our people,” he said.
The statement was insufficient for some of Endicott’s loved ones anxious for her release.
“I heard our secretary of state get out there and say we don’t pay ransom,” said her cousin, Keith Endicott. “OK, fine. Then get the Navy SEALs, get them on a plane and go save her. Don’t pay ransom, I’m good with that. But he didn’t say any of those things. And maybe they’re doing those things, but who know?”
Another cousin also called on the U.S. government to intervene.
“The family has done what’s been asked of them to do,” Rich Endicott said. “I think it’s the government’s time to help us.”
Four gunmen reportedly intercepted Endicott and Remezo on Tuesday evening during a safari tour with Canadians Martin and Barbel Jurrius. The latter two were able to escape the kidnapping and sought assistance from camp officials.
Their vehicle was also taken during the attack and was found abandoned in the same park without its keys, according to reports.
Police initially believed money was the motive, noting the kidnappers used the American’s cellphone to make the ransom demand.
Ugandan Police Assistant Inspector General Abbas Byakagaba said that the agency is “prepared for it” and “will be able to resolve it” as the situation dragged on.
In a tweet on the matter following their release, the Ugandan government offered thanks to all departments involved in securing their safe return.
U.S. President Donald Trump also weighed in via Twitter.
Pleased to report that the American tourist and tour guide that were abducted in Uganda have been released. God bless them and their families!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2019
“Pleased to report that the American tourist and tour guide that were abducted in Uganda have been released,” Trump wrote. “God bless them and their families.”
[Featured image: Kim Sue Endicott, Facebook]