American tourist and Ugandan guide kidnapped by gunmen at popular safari park

American tourist, 35-year-old Kimberly Sue, was with a local guide, Jean Paul, and at least two other tourists at Queen Elizabeth National Park yesterday when they were ambushed by four gunmen. Sue and the driver were kidnapped, leaving the other tourists behind.

According to NBC News:

The assailants used one of the victims' cellphones to call authorities and demand $500,000 for their release, police said, adding that they "strongly believe this ransom is the reason behind the kidnap."

Four kidnappers abducted the American and the driver, taking their keys but leaving the vehicle behind, according to police. The others in the vehicle escaped unharmed and later contacted authorities. The government earlier said that four people had escaped the incident.

Police said they have blocked the nearby border in an attempt to corner the kidnappers.

Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda's most popular tourist destination, according to their website.

Image: by Cody Pope - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Read the rest

Woman escapes kidnapper by leaping out of the trunk of his moving car

A woman in Avondale, Alabama, was recorded on a gas station's security cameras leaping from a moving car to escape a man who had kidnapped her and stuffed her in the trunk.

According to Sgt. Bryan Shelton, the 25-year-old victim was taken by a suspect outside of her apartment on 4th Avenue South and 38th Street in Birmingham's Avondale neighborhood around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. Police said the suspect pointed a gun at her and demanded money.

When the victim said she didn't have any money, the suspect forced her into her black Nissan Altima. Later, he made her move to the trunk of the car.

Shelton said the suspect took her cell phone and wallet.

The victim was then taken to Gas Land on Bessemer Road at approximately 11:40 p.m., where the suspect entered the gas station and tried to withdraw cash from the ATM.

Perhaps she had found the escape latch found in most (all?) modern vehicles' trunks; she ran inside and grabbed the clerk's shotgun while he stood guard at the door and called the cops. Read the rest

My 977 days held hostage by Somali pirates: journalist Michael Scott Moore

In 2012 American journalist Michael Scott Moore (who wrote a great history of surfing, Sweetness and Blood) was kidnapped by Somali pirates and held for $20 million ransom. As soon as I started reading his enthralling account of the 977-day ordeal, my heart began to race.

One night in late February, a month after my capture, the guards hauled me in a Land Rover, alone, to a remote part of the bush to meet the pirate kingpin. I had heard of Garfanji but never seen a picture. He was a powerful criminal, with a reputation for cruelty as well as kindness to his own men.

The person I met in the bush that night seemed groggy and dull-witted; he sat cross-legged in the dust and spoke in a high, almost childish voice. He dialled a private American negotiator on his softly glowing smartphone.

The negotiator said, “The man who just handed you the phone is Mohammed Garfanji,” and my blood felt just like ice water. “They aren’t beating you or anything like that, are they?” he asked.

“No,” I said, although one boss, Ali Duulaay, had beaten me several times. “Not systematically,” is what I meant.

"My 977 days held hostage by Somali pirates" [theguardian.com] Read the rest