American kidnapped in Uganda rescued unharmed along with driver after 5-day ordeal

US tourist and safari guide freed after kidnap in Uganda/AIWAI! NO!

BY STEFAN BECKET/ CBS NEWS

An American who was kidnapped along with her driver in Uganda last week has been recovered unharmed, a spokesman for the Ugandan government said Sunday. The pair were recovered along the border with the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Mountain gorilla Bwindi, Uganda
Mountain gorilla Bwindi, Uganda

Kimberly Endicott, 56, and tour driver Jean-Paul Mirgene Remezo were taken hostage at gunpoint while on safari in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park last Tuesday. Their four kidnappers had demanded a $500,000 ransom and had not backed down from the demand as of Friday, authorities told CBS News last week. The abductors had been using Endicott’s phone to negotiate her release and were in contact with authorities nearly everyday, officials said.

The Uganda Police Force said the pair were rescued during a joint operation and are in “good health.” A spokesman for the Ugandan government said Ugandan security forces were involved in the operation. The two were brought back to the lodge where she had been staying, while the kidnappers managed to escape.

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Kimberly Endicott with a Ugandan commando shortly after she and her driver were rescued April 7, 2019.OBTAINED BY CBS NEWS

Wild Frontiers Uganda, which operates the lodge in the park where Endicott was staying, released photos of Endicott and Remezo meeting with Paul Goldring, the company’s managing director.

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Kimberly Endicott shakes hands with Paul Goldring of Wild Frontiers Uganda on April 7, 2019.WILD FRONTIERS
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Jean-Paul Mirgene Remezo shakes hands with Paul Goldring of Wild Frontiers Uganda on April 7, 2019.WILD FRONTIERS

The kidnapping spurred a massive search effort along the edge of the park, which borders the DRC. The park is one of 10 national parks in Uganda, where tourism remains a major driver of the economy. Hundreds of thousands of visitors travel to the parks each year.

Endicott, an esthetician, runs a skin care clinic in Costa Mesa, California.

Sarah Carter contributed reporting from Uganda.

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