Gunmen kidnap an American tourist in Uganda and demand a ransom of $ 500,000

(CNN) – The Uganda Tourism Authority and the Ugandan Police Force said four armed men kidnapped an American tourist in Uganda on Tuesday and demanded a ransom of $ 500,000.

An American citizen and a Ugandan driver were kidnapped and threatened with guns in Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda while on a safari on Tuesday night, according to a statement issued by the agencies.

Police said, “The kidnappers demanded, to use the victim’s phone, $ 500,000,” adding, “We firmly believe that this ransom is the reason for the kidnapping.”

The police sent an “elite squad” of the tourism police to the park to actively track down the militants and closed all exit areas on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We strongly believe that the perpetrators and victims are still trapped within our search area,” the police statement added.

The American tourist was kidnapped with four who were released, while the American woman and her driver were transferred from Ofondo Ubundo Park, according to the director of the Ugandan Media Center.

“The priority at this stage is to locate them, rescue them, and transport them to safety,” Ubundo said.

Uganda recorded a series of kidnappings in the past year, leading to Street protests Amid allegations that the government has not done enough to address security concerns. Rights groups that led protests in parliament in Kampala city said more than 20 people, most of them women and children, were kidnapped for ransom last year and called on police to prioritize these issues.

The Ugandan Police also set up an emergency center at the time where families of victims can report cases in response to the increase in kidnappings.

Journalist Samson Natali contributed to this story.

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