US tourist and driver freed after being kidnapped by gunmen in Uganda

Chris Riotta

An American tourist and her tour guide who were abducted in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park last week have been rescued, officials confirmed on Sunday.

Kimberly Sue Endicott, a US tourist, was captured along with her guide during an evening game drive by an armed gang who demanded $500,000 (£383,427) in ransom for her safe release.

"Both were rescued from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and are safely back in Kanungu district in Uganda," Ofwono Opondo, a spokesperson for the Ugandan government, said in a statement. "They are back at the lodge and she is expected to be in Kampala tomorrow."

Police also confirmed the safe release, saying in a statement “the duo are in good health [and] in the safe hands of the joint security team.”

Ugandan security teams had been hunting down the gunmen after the kidnapping took place within the national park that is popular with tourists.

They were ambushed on 2 April in Queen Elizabeth National Park, a protected area near the porous border with Congo, according to Ugandan authorities.

It remains unclear if a ransom was paid in the case of Ms Endicott, who is from Costa Mesa, California, where she has a small skin care shop.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said at a Tuesday event for families of US citizens held captive overseas that he understands some people want to do anything to get their loved ones back but paying ransom would just lead to more kidnappings.

In a Friday statement the State Department said that the safety and security of US citizens abroad is its highest priority.

Additional reporting by AP. More follows…