Ugandan police have arrested eight people in connection with the kidnapping of American Tourist Kimberly Sue Endicott and her Ugandan tour guide, Jean Paul Mirenge.
Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga confirmed the arrests during a press conference on Tuesday and said that “the suspects have strong (links) to kidnapping tourists… this is something they had been planning on doing – to kidnap tourists with the intention of getting a ransom.”
Enanga said that with the help of a joint task force of the Ugandan security services and US military representatives, they were able to arrest the suspects.
Junior Tourism Minister, Godfrey Kiwanda Ssubi told a local Ugandan television station (NBS TV) that a ransom was paid to secure the victims.
“Whatever these people (kidnappers) demanded for was paid.” Ssubi said.
Ugandan security officials had earlier refused to acknowledge the payment despite several reports in local and international media.
Endicott and her tour guide were abducted at gunpoint while on a game drive on April 2 in Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwest Uganda, which sits near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The kidnappers then made frequent demands for ransom of $500,000 using their victims’ cell phones.
But, after a days-long search operation by Ugandan police, armed forces and wildlife authorities, Endicott and Mirenge were rescued unharmed from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and brought back to Uganda on Sunday evening.
The news of the arrest come just a day after US President Donald Trump tweeted that Uganda should find the kidnappers and bring them to justice.
Uganda must find the kidnappers of the American Tourist and guide before people will feel safe in going there. Bring them to justice openly and quickly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2019