Uganda hit back at President Donald Trump on Wednesday, dismissing his warning that the assailants who kidnapped an American tourist last week must be brought to justice “before people will feel safe” visiting the East African nation.
“We don’t need his lecture,” government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said in a video shared on Twitter.
Authorities also announced that eight suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident.
“This is the normal course of duty of any reasonable and effective government: to protect its citizens, to protect its borders, to protect those that come into this country and we are ably doing that,” Opondo said.
“We don’t have to go into arguments with Mr. Donald Trump or anybody,” he added.
Southern California native Kimberly Sue Endicott had been visiting Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda when her safari group was ambushed on April 2.
She was held by captors who were demanding $500,000 in ransom, but was found safe alongside her tour guide on Sunday.
A top Ugandan military official told NBC News the pair were found in Ishasha on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Following news of her rescue, Trump said Monday that Uganda must bring the assailants to justice “openly and freely.” His message to the country on Twitter said officials “must find the kidnappers” for travelers to “feel safe in going there.”
It is unclear whether a ransom was paid for the pair’s release.
Opondo said Wednesday that the government’s policy is to not pay ransoms. However, State Minister for Tourism Godfrey Kiwanda said in a televised interview that a ransom had been paid. He didn’t specify who paid it or the amount.
The New York Times also reported that a ransom was paid by safari operator Wild Frontiers, with which Endicott and the driver had been traveling, citing officials with the company.
Ugandan officials, including President Yoweri Museveni, have repeatedly attempted to quell safety concerns for tourists in the country. Opondo said Wednesday that the country received 1.7 million tourists last year, none of whom were victim to a kidnapping or similar incident.
Endicott was identified by several friends who told KNBC in Los Angeles that the trip to Uganda was on her bucket list.
Queen Elizabeth National Park, on the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is one of the country’s most popular destination for its lions, elephants, hippos and proximity to gorilla habitats.