Uganda: Kidnapped Pupils Freed After Parents Pay Shs2m Cash Ransom

Two school children who were kidnapped on Saturday afternoon have been released after their parents paid ransom worth Shs2 million.

Akim Niwagaba, 13, and Ramathan Ayinamani, 10, pupils of Ntungamo Primary School in Butogota town council in Kanungu District were kidnapped by two Congolese militiamen, armed with AK 47 rifles.

To release the pupils, the kidnappers demanded for ransom worth Shs4 million.

The police spokesman for Kigezi Sub Region, Mr Elly Maate, on Monday confirmed the release of the pupils.

He says the deal was negotiated via text messages on the police mobile phone.

The two pupils were kidnapped at Manure-Bugarama cell in Binza Sub County of the Democratic Republic of Congo where they were tending to rice gardens with their mother Ms Joselyn Ampeire.

"The kidnappers strictly used text messages to negotiate the ransom to be paid. After the ransom was paid, the pupils were released and received by their excited parents and relatives," Mr Maate said.

Jackson Tukahirwa, an uncle to the kidnapped pupils said the family received their children on Sunday around 8:30pm after they had walked about two kilometres into DRC.

He added that they opted to pay the money because the operation that was mounted by the Congolese army and local leaders from Butogota in Uganda to hunt for the armed militias turned futile as they only recovered the ragged army attire and the face masks the kidnappers wore.

"At around 7:15pm, we received a message from the kidnappers instructing us to bring Shs2 million if we wanted our children to be released. We immediately mobilised the money and after about 2kms inside Congo, the kidnappers told us to stop and put the money on the ground then move few steps behind," he narrates.

"Then a man armed with an AK 47 emerged from the bush picked the money and counted it. He raised his arm maybe signaling his colleagues confirming receipt of the money and immediately our two pupils emerged from the adjacent bush."

Tukahirwa added that the family is considering abandoning any form of agriculture in the Democratic Republic of Congo because of the continued kidnaps and demand for ransom.

This is one of the many kidnaps of several Ugandans by armed Congolese men. On April 2, four armed men suspected to be Congolese nationals ambushed a tourist van in Queen Elizabeth National Park and kidnapped an American tourist, Ms Kimbley Sue Endecott, and the driver, Mr Jean Paul Mirenge. The duo was released after ransom was paid.

On April 22, the militias kidnapped two Ugandans and released them after their families paid ransom worth Shs3.5m.

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