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Cuban Speaker meets Ruto over fate of two kidnapped doctors


by ALLAN KISIA
Tuesday February 27, 2024

Cuba’s House Speaker Lazo Hernández has met President William Ruto over the fate of two doctors who were abducted in Kenya by Somalia-based jihadists almost five years ago.

Hernández travelled to Kenya following unconfirmed reports that a US drone strike had taken out the two doctors kidnapped in Mandera County in 2019.

Present at the meeting on Thursday was Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale. Hernández has also met National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula over the same issue.

The mission by Hernández comes after al Shabab claimed in a statement that the two doctors had been killed in a US air strike in Somalia last week.

“Lazo has travelled to Kenya to engage in urgent procedures with the highest authorities of that country,” the Cuban ministry said in a statement published on Tuesday.

He is “searching for cooperation and clarification, in the light of the recent news published about the possible non-confirmed death of doctors Assel Herrera Correa and Landy Rodriguez Hernandez, who were kidnapped in that country on April 12, 2019.”

Islamist militant group said the two doctors were killed in “multiple drone strikes” in the southern Somali city of Jilib on February 15.

The U.S. Africa Command, in a statement to AFP on Monday, confirmed that an air strike had been conducted against the al-Shabab network near Jilib on that date.

“We are aware of reports of a strike alleged to have killed two civilians,” it said.

Suspected jihadists seized the two medics in the northeastern Kenyan town of Mandera, where they worked at the local hospital, and took them across the nearby border into Somalia.

They were part of a 100-member Cuban medical brigade working in Kenya under a bilateral agreement.

The two doctors were being escorted to work when two salon cars blocked their way in the ambush.

One of two police officers escorting the doctors was shot dead during the abduction.

Hernández reportedly engaged Kenyan authorities in searching for cooperation and clarification over the possible deaths of the two.

Havana said that soon after receiving the news, the Cuban government, in collaboration with international partners, intensified efforts to gather accurate information about the status of their nationals.

Cuban government said it has been in constant communication with Kenya and Somalia with the aim of rescuing the abducted doctors.

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