State Department warns Americans of kidnapping threat in dozens of countries

The State Department is warning Americans of the risk of kidnapping and hostage-taking in 35 countries, and adopting a new indicator to highlight the increased threat.

High-threat countries will now be labeled with a “K” on the State Department’s website to “communicate more clearly to US citizens the risks of kidnapping and hostage taking by criminal and terrorist actors around the world,” the department said said in a statement.

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The State Department has updated its travel advisories to reflect the threat in Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Colombia, Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine (in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine), Venezuela and Yemen.

The change comes after American tourist Sue Endicott and her local driver were kidnapped at gunpoint last week in Uganda.

An unknown amount of ransom was reportedly paid after the hostage takers demanded $500,000.

Ugandan police announced Tuesday that they made arrests in the kidnapping, saying that they were “actively investigating” the incident but declining to clarify how many people were detained.