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  • Security officers question civilians near the scene where gunmen abducted two Cuban doctors in Mandera county, Kenya, April 12, 2019.

    Security officers question civilians near the scene where gunmen abducted two Cuban doctors in Mandera county, Kenya, April 12, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 April 2019

The Latin American medical professionals went to the African country in 2018 as part of a Cuban mission aimed at boosting health services.

The government of Cuba set up a working group to follow up on the case of two Cuban doctors who were kidnapped Friday morning by armed men who are suspected of belonging to the Somali Al-Shabaab jihadist group in Kenya.

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"Communication channels were established immediately with the Kenyan authorities to address this situation, while keeping the doctor's families informed," the Cuban News Agency reported and added that President Miguel Diaz-Canel's administration "has set up a government working group to follow up on this sensitive issue."

Assel Herrera Correa, a comprehensive general medicine specialist from Las Tunas province and Landy Rodriguez Hernandez, a surgery specialist from Villa Clara province were kidnapped as they were being escorted in an official vehicle to Mandera Hospital located in a northeastern county of Kenya that borders Somalia.

The attackers blocked the traveling vehicle and opened fire, killing one of the police officers accompanying the Cuban doctors, while a second agent was able to escape alive.

Herrera and Rodríguez are part of a contingent of one hundred doctors who arrived in the African country in 2018 under an agreement signed between Cuba and Kenya to improve access to specialized medical services. They were destined to an area close to the border with Somalia.

"Kenya has a very high deficit of physicians. At least 100 Cuban doctors are working in the African country as a result of an agreement with Cuba, which includes the training of 50 Kenyan doctors and training programs, apart from the cooperators' wages."

The eastern region of Kenya already saw a similar case last November, when the Italian aid worker Silvia Costanza Romano was kidnapped by armed men without her whereabouts being known.

Al-Shabaab, which joined Al Qaeda in 2012, fights to topple Somalia's central government and establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic law. This group also conducts frequent assaults in the neighboring country to put pressure on the Kenyan government to withdraw troops from the African Union peacekeeping force.

Somalia has been living in a state of war since 1991, when Mohamed Siad Barre, who served as president from 1969 to 1991 was overthrown, leaving the country without an effective government and in the hands of warlords and armed gangs since then.


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