12 April 2019

Kenya: Two Cuban Doctors Abducted in Northern Kenya

Armed assailants on Friday abducted two Cuban doctors in a road ambush in Mandera, a town about 1,130 kilometres north-east of the capital Nairobi.

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.

During the ambush, the assailants in two small cars first blocked the vehicle ferrying the medics to work.

According to witnesses, they then alighted and opened fire on the police officers, killing one instantly.

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.

Reports indicate they have crossed the border into Somalia.

Police spokesperson Charles Owino said a Mandera driver has been arrested in connection with the kidnap and vehicle recovered.

Security sources told the Nation that military officers had been dispatched to chase after the two vehicles used in the raid and abduction.

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.

Each of Kenya's 47 counties received at least one specialist as the Health ministry sought to bring the services of the contracted staff closer to the people.

"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.

Last year, the National Treasury allocated Ksh1 billion ($10 million) to cater for salaries and other benefits due to the foreign medics.

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