12 July 2019

Kenya: 120 Days and Still No Word on Two Abducted Cuban Medics

Photo: Nairobi News
Dr Landy Rodriguez Hernandez handles a patient in a Mandera hospital as Dr Assel Herrera Correa (left) looks away.

Today marks exactly four months since two Cuban doctors stationed in Mandera were abducted by gunmen on April 12.

The two were kidnapped in a daring road ambush by suspected al-Shabaab militants who killed one of the police officers escorting them.

Since then, little is known about the government's efforts to rescue Dr Landy Rodriguez (a surgeon) and Dr Herera Correa (general practitioner).

"Efforts are ongoing to rescue the doctors but I don't know when they will be released. What I know is that they are alive wherever they are," said Mandera police commander Jeremiah ole Kosiom.

He declined to share more information about the rescue plan.

NEGOTIATE RELEASE

A week after the abduction, local elders volunteered to negotiate their release.

They crossed the border through Elwak on April 20 with El-Adde as their first destination since reports had indicated that the doctors were being held there.

"Those we met at El-Adde denied abducting the doctors but admitted holding them in one of their hideouts. We were mistreated there," one of the elders told the Nation.

They returned after two weeks in El-Adde.

WARNING

"We eventually met the doctors but after a tough time. They (Somali elders) warned against sustained military attacks on their camps in search of the Cubans and we agreed on condition that the doctors are not harmed," said the elder.

They also negotiated the ransom but could not agree on the figure. "The figure was higher than what has been reported in the media but we shall still engage them on that because these doctors are innocent."

A section of the media had placed the ransom at Sh150 million.

Intelligence sources said the Cubans were abducted by bandits who handed them over to suspected al-Shabaab militants, who sought ransom through proxies.

A recent security report showed that the doctors were moved to Halaanqo forest near Barawe town where they were allegedly converted to Islam.

The local security team later blamed the county government for the abduction.

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