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B.C. couple escape armed kidnapping while on safari in Uganda

Click to play video 'B.C. couple escapes armed kidnapping in Uganda unharmed' B.C. couple escapes armed kidnapping in Uganda unharmed
WATCH: Friends and family of an elderly B.C. couple say they're safe after witnessing the armed kidnapping of their driver and an American tourist while on safari in Uganda this week. Paul Johnson reports.

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

Click to play video 'Search continues for American touist kidnapped in Uganda' Search continues for American touist kidnapped in Uganda
Search continues for American touist kidnapped 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.

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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.

READ MORE: Elderly Canadian couple safe after witnessing kidnapping of tourist in Uganda

“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.

Martin Jurrius, far left, and his wife Barbel, third from right, sing at an event at West Vancouver Presbyterian Church.
Martin Jurrius, far left, and his wife Barbel, third from right, sing at an event at West Vancouver Presbyterian Church. Submitted

She said the pair have “tremendous faith,” and was thankful they were spared from being kidnapped as well.

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WATCH: (Aired April 4) Kidnapped American failed to bring armed guard on safari, authorities say

Click to play video 'Uganda says kidnapped American tourist failed to take required armed guard' Uganda says kidnapped American tourist failed to take required armed guard
Uganda says kidnapped American tourist failed to take required armed guard

“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.

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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