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ABDUCTED BY AL SHABAAB

Fate of abducted Cuban doctors a mystery

No word on whereabouts of Cuban doctors, status of negotiations to secure their release

In Summary

• The two Cuban doctors were abducted in Mandera town on April 12 by suspected al Shabaab militants and are believed to be in Somalia.

• Clan elders in Somalia and Kenya, both goverments trying to secure their release.

Sicily Karuiki cabinet secretary ministry of health and Governor of Kirinyaga Ann Waiguru during the signing of MOU on the Cuban doctors at Delta house Nairobi.
Sicily Karuiki cabinet secretary ministry of health and Governor of Kirinyaga Ann Waiguru during the signing of MOU on the Cuban doctors at Delta house Nairobi.
Image: FILE

The two Cuban doctors who were abducted in Mandera town on April 12 by suspected al Shabaab militants remain missing as clan elders and both governments try to secure their release.

The government has not given an update on efforts to rescue Herera Correa, a general physician and surgeon Landy Rodriguez.

Last week Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma declined to give any details, lest delicate negotiations and other operations being compromised. 

The two health workers on their way to work were bundled into two cars by the militants who drove towards the Somalia border at a high speed. Their bodyguard was killed and their driver taken into custody.

There has been no claim of responsibility or public ransom demand.

The Cuban doctors are said to have requested to be housed inside the Mandera Hospital compound, not kilometres away in a house from which they needed armed escorts twice a day.

A total of eight Cuban doctors now have been withdrawn from Wajir, Garissa, Lamu and Tana River counties, two from each.

The status of efforts by respected elders from Mandera, who were carefully selected, to broker a deal with their counterparts from Somalia is not known.

The number of the military choppers doing aerial reconnaissance and other ground searches around Somalia's Bula Hawa have been dramatically scaled back.

Northeastern regional commissioner Mohamed Birik who had only been in Mandera town for a day before the kidnapping returned to Garissa on Thursday evening. He is yet to issue any statement.

Efforts to obtain updates have been unsuccessful.

The Star has reliably learnt that border movement by Kenyans and Somalis to Bula Hawa and Mandera have been stopped.

The border closure has not only affected business between both sides but also has hurt families who have married on both sides.

Speaking to the Star separately, the residents acknowledged that the kidnapping has cone more harm than good.

“I can tell you for a fact that we residents of Mandera who have suffered the most following this ugly incident. It is like we are back to square one. where we were from 2011 to 2014 when everything came to a standstill in our town,” Mandera resident Mohamed Abdi said.

The Star has learnt that not only the health sector has been affected but also a business.

Most goods that Mandera residents use come from Bula Hawa at a cheaper price compared to those transported far from Nairobi.

Businessman Ismail Aden says that initially, a 25kg bag of rice from Bula Hawa retailed for Sh2,000 compared to one from Nairobi that sold for Sh4,000.

Since the abductions, the same rice from Bula Hawa has shot up to Sh3,000.

A 25kg bag of sugar from Bula Hawa that once sold for Sh1,500 is now going for Sh2,500.

The situation has been made tense by the presence of the military officers who have since taken over manning the area.

On Monday, officials from Bula Hawa held a day-long meeting with their counterparts from Mandera, including security officers, with a view to ending the tense situation.

“It is our hope and prayer this thing is sorted out amicably and the Cuban doctors are brought back safely. You can imagine we are forced to suffer for wrongs we did not commit or we know nothing about. This is disgusting,” Mandera resident said Abdi Mohamed said.