A Costa Mesa woman and her travel guide have been rescued by government security forces and are in good health days after they were kidnapped at a national park in Uganda, according to Ugandan authorities.
Kimberly Sue Endicott, a 56-year-old esthetician, was with a Ugandan guide and two other tourists in Queen Elizabeth National Park on Tuesday when four men took them at gunpoint, officials said. The other tourists managed to flee, but Endicott and the driver did not, local police said.
The kidnappers then apparently brought Endicott and her guide across Uganda’s western border into the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they were freed in a successful rescue mission carried out by Ugandan security forces.
Endicott and the guide, Jean Paul, were rescued and are “back in safe hands,” the Uganda Wildlife Authority tweeted Sunday.
“We thank our security agencies who led the mission. This was a one off and isolated incident. Our national parks have been and remain safe to visit.”
The rescue of kidnapped tourist Kimberly Sue and driver guide Jean Paul is complete. Both captives back in safe hands. We thank our security agencies who led the mission. This was a one off and isolated incident. Our national parks have been and remain safe to visit.
— Uganda Wildlife (@ugwildlife) April 7, 2019
Ofwono Opondo P’Odel, a spokesperson of the Ugandan government, tweeted that Endicott and her guide were rescued and that both have been returned to Uganda.
“The kidnappers have escaped and operations continue,” P’Odel tweeted.”
— Ofwono Opondo P'Odel (@OfwonoOpondo) April 7, 2019
Endicott’s captors had reportedly used her cellphone to make a phone call, issuing a demand for $500,000 for her return.
Local authorities said at the time that the ransom would not be paid.
“They (the abductors) continue to use cell phones of the victims to call the lodge they were staying asking for $500,000 ransom, which we will not offer,” Uganda Deputy Police Spokeswoman Polly Namaye said on Thursday.
Uganda police said both Endicott and her guide are in good health.
Police & its sister security agencies have today rescued Ms.Kimberley Sue, an American tourist together with her guide who were kidnapped while on an evening game drive at Queen Elizabeth National park.The duo are in good health & in the safe hands of the joint security team.
— Uganda Police Force (@PoliceUg) April 7, 2019
KTLA’s Alexandria Hernandez contributed to this report.