Teens Kidnapped at Border released after Shs 4m ransom payment

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Two teenagers who were kidnapped by gunmen from their banana plantation near the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border on Easter Monday have been released.

They are 18-year-old Ronald Niwamanya and 15-year-old Dan Tweheyo, both residents of Nyabirehe village in Kihembe parish in Kanyantorogo sub-county in Kanungu district. The duo was kidnapped after crossing a few kilometers from Kanyantorogo into DRC to work on their father’s banana plantation with other workers.

The gunmen later used a Ugandan MTN number 0777403409 to call the victim’s family demanding a ransom of Shs 11 million to release them. Kenneth Tumuhamye, the Kantantorogo sub county LCIII chairperson, says the victim’s family negotiated with the kidnapers and paid a ransom of Shs 3.5 million.

He says the Kinyarwanda speaking gunmen, asked the family to hand over the money to a certain woman to take it to Kyabuyorwa in Ishasha, a few meters to DRC and dump it behind a coffee factory.

Tumuhamye says the kidnap victims were released unharmed on Tuesday at around 7pm. Julisu Tugumenawe, the Kanungu district police commander, says three people have been arrested in connection to the kidnap for questioning at Kanungu police station.

He only identified one of the suspects as Simplisio Atwebembeirwe alias Amooti. He declined to reveal identities of two other suspects. The matter is being investigated at Kanungu police station vice file number CCR078/2019.

The kidnap of the teenagers comes about three weeks after the kidnap of American tourist, Kimberley Sue Endicott and her Ugandan tour guide, Jean-Paul Mirenge inside Queen Elizabeth national park. The gunmen released their victims after reportedly receiving a negotiated sum of $30,000 (about Shs 112 million) out of the $500,000 they had earlier on demanded.

In January 2019, militiamen kidnapped Isaiah Mbeeta, a resident of Munyaga village in Western ward in Butogota town council in Kanungu district. He was working on his garden near the Democratic Republic of Congo, a few Kilometres from Butogota border.

He was released after his family members paid a ransom of Shs 1.5 million. In August 2018, gunmen kidnapped, Robert Mugabe, a resident of Busoni village in Kituba parish in Nakasongola district while transporting fish together with three others traders to DRC from Kasese district.

The gunmen intercepted their victims in Queen Elizabeth national park near the Southern Gate Army Barracks in Kanungu district. He was released after his family paid a ransom of $7,500 (about Shs 27.6m).

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