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US tourist, his driver abducted in Uganda: govt spokesman

KAMPALA, Gunmen in Uganda have abducted an American tourist and his driver inside a national park close to the border with Democratic Republic of Congo, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said Wednesday.

Ugandan soldiers are hunting the gunmen, who abducted the pair around dusk on Tuesday.

“Four armed men, not yet identified, between 5pm and 7pm (1400-1600GMT), staged an ambush and kidnapped an American tourist with his Ugandan driver near Katoke Gate in the Queen Elizabeth National Park,” Mr Opondo said in a statement.

“A joint operation by the Uganda police, Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and Uganda Wildlife Authority Game Wardens is underway to locate and rescue them,” Opondo added.

“The priority at this point is to locate, rescue and bring them back to safely.”

OTHERS SAFE

Four other tourists, who were present when the gunmen attacked but were not abducted or physically harmed, managed to raise the alarm from the lodge where they were staying.

“Four tourists, who were left abandoned and unharmed, later contacted the base and were quickly got safely out of any danger,” Opondo said.

Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of the East African nation’s most famous wildlife reserves, runs along the frontier with conflict-wracked regions of DR Congo, bordering its famous Virunga national park, Africa’s oldest national park

Numerous militia groups and armed gangs roam eastern DR Congo. Virunga suspended all tourism activities last year following the kidnapping of two British tourists. The Britons and their driver were freed two days after the attack.

Queen Elizabeth, in southwestern Uganda lies some 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, famous among tourists for gorilla trekking.

In 1999, Rwandan rebels killed eight foreign tourists there, inflicting an enormous blow to Uganda’s tourist industry.

By AFP

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