The American woman kidnapped from a national park in southwest Uganda by four gunmen in military uniforms, who are now demanding a ransom of $500,000, has been pictured.
Grandmother Kimberly Sue Endicott, who turns 57 on April 15, was on a game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park when her vehicle was ambushed on Tuesday evening, according to police.
A friend said Thursday that Endicott had shared an image on Instagram of four armed guards before she suddenly stopped posting two days ago.
Ugandan soldiers on Thursday expanded their hunt for the gunmen, who abducted the California woman and Wild Frontiers Safari driver Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo, 48, around dusk on Tuesday.
State-run Uganda Wildlife Authority said the Congolese father-of-two was driving without an armed guard despite advice to have one present.
‘I know she was planning this trip for a while, because it’s something that she’s always wanted to do,’ Endicott’s client Pam Lopez told KTLA in a phone interview. ‘This was always a big trip she wanted to take.’
Lopez told the station that Endicott – who has a daughter and a granddaughter – has been sharing images on social media from her travels.
It was her lifelong dream to go there to see the gorillas.
‘She had been posting pictures of her trip up until – it looks like two days ago, which brings it to Tuesday, which I believe is the day she got kidnapped.’
But Lopez admitted she wasn’t sure if Endicott’s loved ones even knew she had been kidnapped.
She added about the Costa Mesa aesthetician: ‘Honestly, I don’t know what to think. I’m still trying to process it.’
Endicott works at Solutions Skincare Studio according to her Facebook profile.
On Thursday teams ‘widened the search area’ to include the districts of Kanungu and Rukungiri, where approximately 500,000 people live.
‘The operation to rescue the tourist is still ongoing,’ Uganda’s tourism minister, Godfrey Kiwanda, told AFP on Thursday morning.
NTV reported Army spokesman Brigadier Richard Karemire added: ‘Let the security forces do their work.’
Between 5pm and 7pm on Tuesday, the tourist and her driver were taken, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said Wednesday in a statement.
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Source: Daily Mail