An American tourist and her local driver have been kidnapped and held for ransom in Uganda.
ABC News reports that a group of armed men ambushed a group of tourists traveling in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, abducting the American tourist and the driver but leaving four other tourists unharmed.
Local police told NBC News that the tourist has been identified as Kimberly Sue, a 35-year-old American woman, and the driver as Jean Paul. The kidnappers have used one of the victims’ cell phones to demand a $500,000 ransom for their release.
According to CNN, police have sent an “elite squad” to pursue the kidnappers and closed all exit areas on the Uganda – Democratic Republic of Congo border, believing that the perpetrators and victims could still be trapped within the search area.
A spate of kidnapping incidents last year prompted a number of street protests to call on the government of Uganda to do more to address security issues, according to the CNN report. More than 20 people, mostly women and children, were abducted for ransom last year. In response to the protests the Ugandan police established an emergency center where families of victims could report kidnapping cases.