US tourist freed in Uganda, conflicting reports over ransom

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Uganda police say that an American tourist who was freed after being kidnapped in a national park will be turned over to the U.S. ambassador Monday, amid conflicting reports over whether a ransom was paid for her release.

Ugandan police said Kim Endicott, from California, and her Ugandan driver were both safe, after the five-day ordeal during which they were taken from Queen Elizabeth National Park across the border to Congo.

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Police said that no ransom was paid, although the kidnappers had demanded $500,000 after grabbing Endicott and her driver from a group of tourists on an evening game drive on April 2.

However, a tour official says a ransom was paid to secure Endicott’s freedom.

The official with Wild Frontiers Uganda Safaris, which organized the kidnapping victims’ safari itinerary, said Monday that Endicott was released, “not rescued,” after money was paid. “Otherwise she wouldn’t be back,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.