Uganda Kidnapping Victim Waves as She Begins Long Journey Home

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The American grandmother who was kidnapped while on safari in Uganda managed to wave as her nightmare finally came to an end.

Emotion was written all over 56-year-old Kimberly Sue Endicott's face after she was freed from her abductors with her tour guide, Jean-Paul Mirenge.

Back home in Costa Mesa, California, friends were also relieved.

"We're all very scared ... hoping that nothing happened but also your mind kind of goes to a bad, bad place sometimes," one friend told Inside Edition.

Endicott was expected to be welcomed by U.S. embassy officials after arriving in Kampala Monday.

President Trump tweeted, "Pleased to report that the American tourist and tour guide that were abducted in Uganda have been released. God bless them and their families!"

Details of how the pair was freed remained vague Monday, but Ugandan officials said it was a "rescue" operation and that the U.S. military played a role by conducting "reconnaissance" and logistical support. One report said the kidnappers fled as security forces closed in.

The safari company, Wild Frontiers Uganda, has denied paying the $500,000 ransom demanded by the kidnappers.

CBS News producer Sarah Carter, who is in Uganda, said mystery remains over how Endicott and her guide were freed.

"We understand the amount was negotiated downwards, substantially downwards. We don't know the amount at all, we don't know who paid," she said.

Former FBI and DEA agent Robert Strang, who runs an international security company, says it's U.S. policy never to pay ransom.

"If the ransom was paid it was certainly not paid by our government and was certainly not something that we would be involved with," he told Inside Edition.

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