Five suspects have been identified in the killing of tourists and their guide in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park, and a joint police and security force has launched an extensive manhunt to apprehend these individuals.
Two tourists (one UK citizen and one South African) and a Gorilla and Wildlife Safaris guide were killed when their vehicle was set ablaze on Tuesday (October 17).
President Yoweri Museveni, said on social media site, X: "It was a cowardly act on the part of the terrorists attacking innocent civilians and tragic for the couple who were newlyweds and visiting Uganda on their honeymoon.”
The suspects are linked to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group originating in Uganda that operates out of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and that has ties to the Islamic State (IS) terror organisation.
IS has since claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters.
Tour operator, Great Lakes Safaris and Uganda Lodges, has acknowledged that several countries from key source markets have introduced stringent travel restrictions to certain areas in Uganda and is working closely with clients to provide alternative options and re-routing of itineraries.
“Last week’s heart-wrenching incident has shocked the travel community and at Great Lakes Safaris and Uganda Lodges we are all feeling very distressed at the loss of lives suffered. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families and loved ones of the victims. Our thoughts are also extended to our local tour company colleagues at Gorilla and Wildlife Safaris,” said Great Lakes CEO and Founder, Amos Wekesa.
He said Great Lakes Safaris and its lodges Primate Lodge Kibale, Elephants Plains Lodge and Simba Safaris Camp in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Budongo Eco Lodge and Budongo Forest in Murchison Falls National Park, all remained open and in operation.
“The safety and security of our guests remains our utmost priority and we commit to informing you of further developments as they become available,” said Wekesa.
‘Committed to ensuring safety’
He said the Uganda Police Force and government security agencies were committed to ensuring the safety and security of tourists visiting the country.
“As a company, we continue to be on high alert in our operations whilst moving tourists around Uganda. The tourism industry is a vital component of Uganda’s economy, which has been resilient in the face of past challenges.
“With strengthened security measures across our tourism hotspots, we hope to continue this essential industry which so many communities, wildlife species and wilderness areas rely on,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, all national parks managed by them remain open to visitors. The authority will continue to work with other security agencies to ensure that all people visiting the country’s protected areas are safe.