Kenya: Govt in the Dark Over News of Release of Cuban Doctors

The Kenyan government appeared to be in the dark following news reports that two Cuban doctors kidnapped in Mandera County last year had been released.

“We have not received any news about the release of the Cuban doctors,” government Spokesperson Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna said.

Cuba on Wednesday denied that two doctors kidnapped by suspected Al-Shabaab militants have been released.

“I deny the information circulating this morning about the alleged liberation of the two kidnapped Cuban doctors, Assel Herrera Correa and Landy Rodriguez Hernandez,” said Foreign Affairs Ministry Press Director Juan Antonio Fernandez.

“Considerable efforts are ongoing to ensure their freedom and their safe and healthy return to our country.”

Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno RodrĂ­guez had on Monday tweeted about the doctors taking time to thank his counterpart in Somalia, Ahmed Isse Awad, for helping in the negotiations to secure the release of the doctors.

The tweet by Mr Rodriguez did not mention if the Kenyan government is also offering any assistance in the negotiations.

“I had a telephone conversation with the Foreign Minister of Somalia, Mr Ahmed Isse Awad. I appreciated the support and efforts of your government to guarantee the safe return of our kidnapped doctors. We highlight the will to strengthen bilateral ties between the two governments,” Mr Rodiriguez said.

The doctors, Assel Herrera, a specialist in comprehensive general medicine, and Landy Rodriguez, a surgeon, were kidnapped by Al-Shabaab militants on April 12, 2019.

They were part of the team of 100 Cuban medics offering services in Kenya as part of a bilateral deal between the two countries.

The doctors were abducted during a road ambush at Banisa stage in Mandera town, some 1,135 kilometres from the capital Nairobi.

The area is near the Kenyan border with Somalia.

Daring attack

In the daring attack that was staged a few minutes after 9am, the attackers shot dead one of two police officers who were escorting the medics to their work station.

The officers, one from the Administration Police and the other from Kenya Police, had picked up the health workers from their homes in a Mandera County government vehicle.

The armed assailants were in a saloon car and a Toyota Probox.

Additional reporting by AFP.

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