Suspected al-Shabab fighters abduct 2 Cuban doctors in northern Kenya

Cuba last year sent around 100 doctors to Kenya, seen here at their induction programme in Nairobi in June
By :
AT Team

Suspected armed al-Shabab fighters on Friday abducted two Cuban doctors in a road ambush in Mandera, a town about 1,130 kilometres north-east of the capital Nairobi.

The doctors were ambushed as they headed to work, said David Ohito, communications director for the Mandera county government.

In the daring attack staged a few minutes after 9am (0600GMT), the gunmen shot dead one of the two police officers who were guarding the medics.

The other officer managed to escape in the attack that happened right in the middle of the town that lies near the Somalia border.

The gunmen then bundled the two health workers into their cars and drove off.

Ali Roba, the governor of Mandera, said in a statement that the gunmen’s vehicle blocked the doctors’ vehicle “and opened fire at their bodyguards, killing one instantly”.

Africa Tembelea has learnt that military officers had been dispatched to chase after the two vehicles used in the raid and abduction.

“Our security agencies are working with Somalia Government Security agencies to pursue the abductors into Somalia with the objective of rescuing the victims,” Kenyan police chief Hillary Mutyambai said in a statement.

Dr Assel Herera Correa (left) a general physician and Dr Landy Rodriguez a surgeon. The two doctors were abducted in a daring attack by gunmen in Mandera town on April 12, 2019. COURTESY PHOTOS

The abducted doctors are among 110 Cuban specialists that Kenyan imported from Havana last year in a bid to ease staffing shortages in rural health facilities and deal with increasing threats of industrial action by disgruntled local medical practitioners.

“The main idea in bringing these specialists is to learn from the Cuban experience in building a robust primary and curative healthcare system that has afforded the country universal health care,” Dr Rashid Aman, the chief administrative secretary at the Ministry of Health, said when the doctors arrived in 2018.

This is a second abduction of a foreigner in five months, likely carried out by the Somali-based al-Shabab.

In November, an Italian volunteer, Silvia Romano, was kidnapped in southern Kenya’s coastal region by gunmen linked to al-Shabab. She has not been found yet.

Although kidnappings in Kenya are relatively rare, they can have a devastating effect on tourism, a major income-earner.

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