Friends and family of an elderly Vancouver-area couple are praying for their safety after the pair escaped an armed kidnapping while on safari in Uganda this week.
Martin and Barbel Jurrius have been identified as the Canadian couple present when four armed gunmen abducted their safari driver and a 35-year-old American woman travelling with them in Queen Elizabeth National Park Tuesday evening.
WATCH: Search continues for American tourist abducted in Uganda
Global Affairs Canada confirmed the couple is safe and were unharmed in the ambush of tourists, and are being provided with consular services, but did not confirm their identities.
Friends said the Jurriuses, who are both 78 years old, are longtime world travellers who were on their third safari when the attackers ambushed their group.
“I was unbelievably shocked, and I couldn’t believe it happened to my good friends,” West Vancouver Presbyterian Church elder Jean Lawrence told Global News Friday when asked about hearing the news.
Lawrence said Martin and Barbel were members of her church for 20 years before they moved to North Vancouver in April 2018, when they joined Mount Seymour United Church.
She said the pair have “tremendous faith,” and was thankful they were spared from being kidnapped as well.
WATCH: (Aired April 4) Kidnapped American failed to bring armed guard on safari, authorities say
“It was almost like God was watching over them,” Lawrence said.
Speaking on the phone from Vernon, the couple’s son Dave Jurrius said he hasn’t heard from his parents, as they generally don’t keep in contact when they’re on vacation beyond an occasional postcard.
He said he’s heard they continued their safari after the ambush and are now planning to fly to Germany.
“They’re OK, that’s the main thing,” Dave said.
Global News has reached out to other relatives and friends of the couple for further comment.
Global News has also reached out to Global Affairs Canada for clarification on the Jurriuses’ whereabouts.
Ugandan security forces are continuing to search for the American tourist, identified as Kimberley Sue Endicott, and the driver. The kidnappers have demanded a $500,000 ransom for their return.
According to a statement from Ugandan police, the safari vehicle was left parked and the kidnappers left with the key. The statement also misspells the Canadian couple’s last name as “Julius.”
Two other people left behind with the Jurriuses were also unharmed, according to a statement on the Uganda Media Centre website.
—With files from the Canadian Press and Associated Press