Eight suspects are being held in connection with the kidnap of the American tourist and Ugandan tour guide, according government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo. On Tuesday, Police spokesperson Fred Enanga confirmed the arrests but did not disclose the number of suspects or their identities.
However, Opondo tweeted yesterday saying: “By last evening (Tuesday), eight suspects identified as Ugandans had been arrested in connection to kidnapping of the American tourist Kimberly and her tour Guide.”
On April 2, four gunmen abducted an American tourist, Kimberly Sue, together with a Ugandan tour guide-cumdriver, Jean-Paul Mirenge, within Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda. The pair was on Sunday recovered unharmed following a rescue mission comprising Uganda People’s Defence Forces, the elite Special Forces Command, Police and the Joint Intelligence Task Team.
We learnt that Police yesterday interviewed and recorded a statement from Kimberly regarding what transpired (kidnap) to help in the investigations. The CNN news channel quoted Enanga saying that the suspects in custody “have strong (links) to kidnapping tourists”. He said the suspects were arrested with the help of a joint task force consisting of the Ugandan security services and representatives from the United States military.
In a statement sent to media houses on Tuesday, Enanga said the suspects were arrested following raids and extensive searches in Kanungu district and the neighboring areas. According to sources, the tourist’s abductors received $30,000 (about sh112m) as ransom. However, Police have denied payment of the ransom. Sources say the Government did not negotiate with the kidnappers directly. All negotiations were through Wild Frontiers Safaris.
As negotiations went on, it was suggested to the kidnappers that medicines and food be made available to the abductees. The security hoped to use this to track the movement of the kidnappers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). But the kidnappers rejected the suggestion. After protracted negotiations, it was agreed that a ransom of $30,000 be paid to the kidnappers.
“The money was delivered on Saturday, through a process that took about twoand-a-half hours. The mission executors followed all the captors’ instructions to the letter,” the source explained. “The courier of the cash package used two motorcycles (bodabodas) moving 60km from Uganda across the porous border of the DRC to a place as ordered by the captors,” a source added.
The captors issued the instructions using Kimberly’s cellphone. “The abductors insisted the money must be delivered by a neutral person, a woman who was not armed and had to travel using a motorcycle to an undisclosed point, about 30km inside the DRC.” “After crossing the border into the DRC, the woman travelling on the motorcycle was ordered to stop at a certain point and was asked to hand over the money to another person riding a motorcycle on the DRC side of the border.
The woman went with the motorcyclist to the destination, where the money was checked to ascertain it was not counterfeit,” the source said. The captives and the woman who took the money returned on one motorcycle to the place where the Ugandan motorcyclist had been left.
The Ugandan bodaboda rider was ordered to bring the three to the Ugandan side of the border. Sources said the security team was, however, able to keep track of the woman who delivered the money using a high-tech tracking device, to ensure she was not harmed.